Each October, Black History Month is celebrated in the UK. The month was founded nearly 40 years ago and helps us to recognise the contributions that people from an African and Caribbean background have made to the country. In recent years, this celebration has expanded to include not just Afro-Caribbean black people but people from all Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.
Our recognition of Black History Month includes sharing role model stories of BAME leaders who are part of our family and acknowledging their achievements. The first leader story is of our colleague Suminthra Naidu - Head of Nursing – Paediatric Services.
Suminthra has been a nurse for nearly 25 years and had always had an interest in in working in children’s health. This lead to Suminthra to completing a degree in Nursing, followed by a specialist degree in Neonates Nursing. In 2005 she pursued a career as an Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (ANNP); and graduated with a distinction in her MSc.
“Back then the concept of Nurse Practitioners were not widely accepted. I saw this as an opportunity to change people’s perceptions of the role” says Suminthra
“My drive and enthusiasm for wanting to make a difference inspired my journey ahead and eventually in 2009, after being the only ANNP in the Trust, I was able to create a pipeline for training of future ANNP’s”
Suminthra remained as an ANNP for ten years until being encouraged to apply for the Mary Seacole programme. Run by the NHS Leadership Academy, this is a six month leadership development programme to develop knowledge and skills in leadership and management.
“Alongside the Mary Seacole programme, I started my first job as a matron. This was a great learning curve for me and provided me with unique opportunities to gain experience in change management and transformation”
Suminthra is currently Head of Nursing (Paediatric Services) at KGH. Reflecting on her 25 year career during Black History Month, Suminthra says
“Some of the greatest challenges that I have experienced as a senior leader in the NHS has been affiliated to being a women of colour. My journey as a senior leader has been challenged by systemic bias and prejudice. There have been times when I would have been the most qualified and skilled professional in an interview process and not secured the job. This isn’t something that I experienced here at KGH”