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New ‘Caring for the nation’ platform celebrates the contribution of ethnic minority nurses and midwives

Nursing leaders paid tribute to ethnic minority nurses and midwives today (Tuesday 11 May) as the Mary Seacole Trust (MST) launched a new platform to celebrate the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Year of the Health and Care Worker.

Supported by NHS England and NHS Improvement, the ‘Caring for the nation’ platform offers a collection of inspiring interviews with nurses from around the globe. They tell their stories with honesty and compassion, documenting the reality of life as a person of colour working in the health service, highlighting the changes that have taken place in recent years, and demonstrating the opportunities and benefits of a career in nursing and midwifery.

There is also a 4-minute video, tracing the history of Britain’s ethnic minority nurses from Mary Seacole’s work in the 19th century Crimean War to the present day.

The educational package was launched on the eve of Nurses Day (May 12) by Chief Nursing Officer for England Ruth May, MST Chair Trevor Sterling and MST Trustee Dr Habib Naqvi at an NHS Ethnic Minority Symposium.

NHS England and MST believe the platform can be used in a variety of settings to encourage recruitment to nursing and midwifery from ethnic minority communities.

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: “One in five of our nurses, midwives and health visitors is from an ethnic minority background: we owe them huge thanks for the contribution they make to the health of our nation. The stories on this portal are a reminder that there is no room for inequity in our professions, and that equal opportunities for all staff, irrespective of ethnicity, must be a priority for us all.”

MST Chair Trevor Sterling said: “We are delighted to provide a home for this major piece of work that is very much in keeping with Mary’s legacy. Mary was among the first of thousands of nurses who travel the world to help care for those whose lives have been torn apart by war and disaster. These same qualities of compassion, determination and humanity are demonstrated over and over in interviews with today’s nurses. They can do much to inspire the next generation who follow in Mary’s footsteps.”

Dr Habib Naqvi MBE, MST Trustee and Director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, said: “Even before the inception of the NHS in 1948, ethnic minority nurses and midwives have been at the heart of caring for our nation. We must recognise and celebrate their immense contribution over time. I’m very proud to be involved in producing this educational resource, that will inspire future generations to follow the career paths of those that have gone before them in caring for our nation.”

WHO had designated 2020 the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, but the year was extended and renamed the International Year of the Health and Care Worker as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Click here to visit the platform.

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