Talking Point

12 Diverse Days of Christmas #9

I am delighted to feature Seema Srivastava, who is an NHS hospital medical consultant in a senior leadership role which focuses on improving quality and safety. She is also a great friend, a terrific runner and was awarded an MBE in the 2018 Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for her services to the NHS in Patient Safety.

“Growing up in the late 70s and 80s as a British Indian meant I was exposed to racism. I was very lucky though that this was rarely directed personally at me. My parents had a deeply rooted belief that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to which influenced my thinking to never consider gender or ethnicity as a barrier to following my aspirations. A career in the NHS, following my father’s footsteps (who was an inner city London GP) was how I wanted to play my part in life.

“I qualified in 1999 and then started my postgraduate training which would lead me to my consultant job, as a consultant treating older people with fractures in a large hospital.

“I became interested in falls and how to prevent them. This led me to working with our regional patient safety programme and developed my experience in quality improvement (QI) and change methodology. 

“When I became a Mum and then returned to work I was able to work my full time hours in reduced days. This flexibility had a significantly positive influence on my wellbeing. I love being a Mum but I also love my job and I wanted to feel fulfilled in both.

“For me, this is a key area that all industries need to focus on, to enable new mothers and fathers to continue their valuable contributions to their organizations as well as have happy family lives.

“In 2015, as a Mum of a small child, I had the opportunity to take on a senior leadership role in my hospital, developing and leading our safety and QI programme. It’s a joy and a privilege for me to work across our healthcare community to create the conditions for teams to feel empowered to make positive change for their patients.

“In 2018 I was incredibly proud to be awarded a MBE for my work in the NHS. It was totally unexpected but wonderful.

“For me, this has highlighted the importance of having BAME women recognised in senior leadership in the NHS. I am now in a position where I can support others who may feel they are facing barriers to achieving their career goals because of their BAME background. There have been opportunities to informally coach colleagues which is something I’m really keen to develop going forward. 

“One of the most inspirational leaders who I feel has contributed so much for inclusivity is Dr Navina Evans, Chief Executive of East London NHS Foundation Trust, who was recently given a CBE for her achievements. Navina, a woman of BAME background has championed equality, diversity and wellbeing in her own organisation and across the NHS. 

“It is widely accepted now that inclusivity, kindness and psychological safety have a huge impact on the safety culture in the NHS so it’s really important to celebrate the good work that is going on in this area but continue to do more.”

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