Shared Learning Event: Recognising the Contribution NHS Diaspora Staff Make
to Global Health
Internationally trained healthcare workers are the backbone of healthcare systems in Wales and the UK, where a significant proportion of doctors and nurses are trained abroad. The shared learning event, “Recognising the Contribution NHS Diaspora Staff Make to Global Health,” engages with the findings and recommendations of THET’s “Experts in our Midst” report. It recognises the central role of NHS diaspora staff, not only in providing healthcare within Wales and the UK, but also in strengthening healthcare systems on a global scale, both individually and through organisations.
Dr. Kit Chalmers kicked off the event with a summary of the main findings of THET’s report, highlighting two problem areas: that the knowledge and expertise that NHS diaspora staff offer the UK are largely underestimated and underutilised, and that diaspora staff’s connections to their countries of origin are not sufficiently supported, hindering the potential impact of their work on global health and their progression to leadership positions. Chalmers also reiterated the report’s recommendations, which emphasise diaspora involvement and leadership in health partnerships.
Responding to the report, other speakers discussed the practical steps being taken in Wales to promote greater health equality and professional equity within the NHS. Sue Tranka, Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, focused on the radical action required to achieve an anti-racist Wales, where all BAME mothers experience safe childbirth and BAME nurses are no longer disproportionately referred to regulatory bodies. Upcoming projects include a Maternity and Neonatal Safety Support Improvement Programme and initiatives to support minority ethnic staff through career and leadership progression. Dr. Ian Collings, NHS psychiatrist and leadership development expert, echoed these calls for professional equity, outlining system-wide solutions to the differential experiences and attainment levels of international medical graduates in Wales. Such initiatives include HEIW’s #TrainWorkLive Campaign, mentorship programmes, improved induction, and the provision of ongoing support.
Participants also shared some of the challenges they have personally faced as diaspora staff or diaspora organisations. Public and Mental Health Nurse, Dorcas Gwata, introduced an evidence-based intervention in the UK based on her research in Zimbabwe— attesting to the invaluable contributions that NHS diaspora staff make to the UK health system. Despite these contributions, the NHS has not validated the work of staff like Gwata, either through career progression or through positions where they can set the global agenda. We also had the chance to hear from the Betsi-Kenya partnership on the challenges diaspora groups face in ensuring committed and passionate members for the long term.
Watch the full event here: