Blog post

Building unity and solidarity to amplify voices

Chair of the steering group for the BME Leadership Network, Richard Stubbs, shares his pride in his role and the network’s purpose.
Richard Stubbs

26 October 2021

Networks such as the BME Leadership Network can help people to come together to work towards common goals, provide peer support and help to develop an NHS that meets the needs of all the communities it serves.

For Black History Month 2021, the NHS Confederation chose the theme Collaborate to Elevate, focusing on building unity and solidarity to amplify voices, using collective strength to rise up individually and collectively by all means.

In parallel, the national Black History Month campaign for 2021 is called Proud to Be, inviting ethnic minority people from across the UK to share what they are proud to be.

So, am I ‘proud to collaborate’ and ‘proud to elevate’? Certainly, and networks are one such way of coming together to work towards common goals and provide peer support and development.

The BME Leadership Network is one of three diverse leadership support networks hosted by the NHS Confederation as part of its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) programme. It exists to improve and sustain the number of BME leaders working in the NHS and strengthen their voice, thus supporting the development of an NHS that meets the needs of all the communities it serves. It does this by enhancing the implementation of the NHS Long Term Plan through directed action, system influencing, celebration, and legacy.

Directed action

Directed action is about creating a safe space for BME leaders to share their experiences, insights and evidence on best practice, thereby influencing the evolving NHS culture and policy debates to promote an enhanced culture of EDI across the NHS. Our network events provide peer-to-peer support with established leaders sharing their own reflections.

For example, the In Our Own Words event held in March, where frontline BME staff and BME workforce leaders came together to take an informal barometer of the current workforce culture and experience. And our more recent Black History Month events, where senior leaders discussed leadership challenges and opportunities and reflected on best practice.

System influencing

Publications such as Perspectives From The Front Line placed the spotlight on a set of uncomfortable truths about the unequal impact of COVID-19

The network seeks to influence the system by offering the expertise of BME leaders to enhance the capacity of the NHS at all levels, in order to develop and implement effective policies, providing constructive challenge and meaningful insight to help NHS organisations improve their EDI performance.

Publications such as Perspectives From The Front Line placed the spotlight on a set of uncomfortable truths about the unequal impact of COVID-19 and underlying causes, and we also provided input into the chief nursing officer’s post-COVID-19 risk assessment Nursing and Midwifery BME Staff Action Plan.

Celebration

Celebrating and validating BME achievements at all levels is hugely important. We must profile the diverse range of BME leaders who are delivering solutions across the health and care system that improve patient care and outcomes or staff engagement and satisfaction.

The network strives to improve understanding of equality, diversity and inclusion and publish the benefits to help deliver better care for all, thus providing a lasting legacy for the NHS.

In May we held a Tribute to the Trailblazers celebration that recognised the contributions of the 2020 HSJ BAME50 most influential BAME people in health, and paid tribute to those trailblazers that had come before them.

In line with the NHS Confederation’s EDI strategy, the network also seeks to provide a legacy by building an asset-based resource to support its self-sufficiency, and develop a repository of anti-racist and EDI skills, knowledge, and practice.

The network strives to improve understanding of equality, diversity and inclusion and publish the benefits to help deliver better care for all, thus providing a lasting legacy for the NHS.

Support our network

We have some exciting plans for the coming year, which started at the beginning of Black History Month when we launched our network Twitter account @NHSC_BMELeaders. The account is helping to raise the profile of the network and awareness of our work, as well as connecting our members and supporters.

Membership of the network is open to all NHS leaders from BME backgrounds. We recognise that there are great NHS BME leaders operating in many roles and levels, not just as senior managers, and our network seeks to support them all.  We also encourage non-BME NHS leaders to become supporters of this network.  If you're interested in joining or supporting the network, head to our membership page.

‘I am proud to be’ the chair of the steering group for the BME Leadership Network. In order to collaborate and elevate, we first need to come together with a common purpose and that is what networks seek to do. Please join us if you can.


Richard Stubbs is chair of the BME Leadership Network steering group, CEO of the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network, and NHS Assembly member. Follow Richard and the BME Leadership Network on Twitter @richarddstubbs @NHSC_BMELeaders