International Women’s Day

March 9, 2020

International Women’s Day 2021

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021, we interviewed women working within our Trust about their experiences and challenges working within the NHS.

What is your role in the Trust?
I am Director of Finance and Deputy Chief executive for the Trust, my portfolio includes IT & Clinical Systems, Estates and Facilities, Contracts and Planning, Business Intelligence and of course finance.

What does your role involve day-to-day?
A lot of meetings, many of which are with my wonderful team as well as increasing with colleagues across our Integrated Care System (ICS) as we work together more. I spend a fair amount of time worrying about how we make the money go further and working out how we can get more resources, and inevitably presenting our position in formal Board/ committee meetings. When I cover for Paul my uncomplaining deputies pick up more work so I can have the capacity to cover the Chief Executive role as well.

Was there a women, or women, who inspired you to want to work for the NHS?
If I am honest I never had a clear career plan (other than not to work for profit) and came to the NHS via Housing which is obviously one of the biggest determinants of health out of an interest in the services. Since then I have been incredibly inspired by lots of women I have met in the NHS, but special mention would have to go to Dame Rennie Fritchie, former chair of 2gether who is such a fantastic role model being so sharp and astute while at the same time so kind and lovely to work with.

What has been your most proud moment working for the Trust?
I was so pleased to get the business case for the merger approved through the NHS Improvement process, it seemed a lot of work to make the right thing happen. I am passionate about our plan to integrate healthcare so getting the go-ahead was a big moment, although it seems so long ago now.

Have you faced any challenges as a woman as your career within the NHS has progressed?
Just a few! In my first job I was informed by the Chief Executive’s assistant that it was unacceptable for women to wear trousers! (1989) But seriously, from everyday stereotypes leading to assumptions made by others about my capabilities or indeed my role through to not getting shortlisted for jobs I met all the criteria for- there have been lots, although I must say I have been lucky to have some great colleagues backing me. Recently I have been reflecting on my response to those situations and thinking about how much harder it might have been if I also possessed other characteristics known to carry stereotypes, through this I have developed a better understanding of my own privilege.

What challenges do you feel women working the NHS still face today?
Gender stereotypes (along with other prejudices and norms) are alive and well in the NHS, and our organisation, these mean women (and other groups) are treated differently. This happens even though we have great values as an organisation and we want as an organisation to be fair and equal. Recently we had a discussion at the women’s leadership network about the inverse proportion of women at higher grades, which leads to an inevitable gender pay gap even though we have a good equal pay system. Women in leadership are definitely perceived and treated differently to men in the same positions even if they have similar leadership styles, and that different treatment comes from male and female colleagues equally. I feel passionately we have to change that as well as learning to value the benefits diversity can bring. We can start with small things like language, I overheard a female senior manager only last week being described as a “good girl”, and whilst I agree that the women is question is great a good male manager would probably not be referred to as “ a good boy”.

How important to you is it that women support and champion one another in the workplace?
I feel women should support each other, but we also need the support of male colleagues, many women in our organisation will have a male manager who can help them progress like many of mine did. Without women being equally represented we are missing out on half the population’s talent! Us women also need to remember to support our male colleagues, particularly those surrounded by female co-workers in some of our most important front-line roles.

If you could go back in time, is there any advice that you would give to yourself when you first started working for the NHS?
Probably, get used to the reorganisations and understand that they always bring some opportunities, especially. I joined an NHS Trust on the first day it existed with a whole new set of “financial freedoms” only to find myself in 2007 leading a process of FT authorisation to regain the chance to regain some of the same freedoms


Kizzy Kukreja IWD2021

What is your role in the Trust?
I am a Senior Dentist within the community dental service. I am also a Staff Governor representing Medical, Dental and Nursing

What does your role involve day-to-day?
I provide dental treatment for children and adults with special needs, patients with dementia, phobic adults and children and treatment under sedation and general anaesthetic when needed. I also carry our domiciliary dental visits to patient’s homes or care homes.

Was there a women, or women, who inspired you to want to work for the NHS?
There wasn’t a women in the NHS, but the woman I give credit to, for giving me the drive to work hard is my mum. She came to UK on her own and forged her own career whilst bringing up 4 children by herself without any support. She always worked hard and was a great role model to always go above and beyond and achieve your best.

What has been your most proud moment working for the Trust?
I am always proud when I have treated patients in a relaxed and calm environment. I recently had a patient with dementia, her sister was so grateful for the treatment we had provided, she said that my calm manner had helped the whole family cope with the treatment. Compliments from patients and their family are always my proudest moment.

Have you faced any challenges as a woman as your career within the NHS has progressed?
My biggest challenge is the fact that I am a single parent and trying to juggle my full time job with being a full time parent. That sacrifices have had to be made and that personal circumstances are not taken into account.

What challenges do you feel women working the NHS still face today?
They face many challenges. I have already mentioned childcare, but other caring responsibilities force us to take time off work, and have to juggle our work/life balance. We have to choose between our career and other personal issues including health. There is also a culture of not wanting to talk about how being a woman affects our working life.

What inspired you to co-host ‘Working parents – flexible working beyond the pandemic’ as part of International Women’s Day 2021?
Earlier this year, Gingerbread (a charity that supports single parent families) published a report revealing that UK workplaces are missing out on valuable workplace skills due to barriers which limit opportunities for single parents to progress in their jobs.

When Covid struck and childcare disappeared in March 2020 I felt helpless.

As a dental service we became the only emergency service open in the whole of Gloucestershire, which meant I could not work from home, and as a lead dentist I had to lead a team seeing emergency dental patients in clinic. The Trust were super helpful finding a nursery for my son, but unfortunately the nursery did not cover all of my childcare needs, which meant I was initially taking unpaid leave, then when April started I had to take annual leave. This used a third of my annual leave allowance. There was never another option. I am tired and I have missed out on lots of quality time with my son. Lessons have to be learnt from the pandemic, conversations had and everyone should be able to strike the balance between having a contented professional life and a happy personal life no matter your circumstance.

How important to you is it that women support and champion one another in the workplace?
Hugely. We need to be allies for one another, to show each other respect and build each other up.

If you could go back in time, is there any advice that you would give to yourself when you first started working for the NHS?
Don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask you don’t get and if you don’t get, don’t give up, keep fighting. It is far too easy in the NHS to just say “it has always been that way” – but we as individuals can be that change.


Angela-Potter-IWD2021

What is your role in the Trust?
Director of Strategy & Partnerships

What does your role involve day-to-day?
My role enables me to work right across the Trust and with our external partners and stakeholders – it has a focus on developing the work within the integrated locality partnerships and also thinking about the future direction of our services and the Trust. I am currently working with colleagues to help develop the Trust’s strategy and think about our future plans and major pieces of development and quality improvement work that we need to develop and deliver to continue to move services forward as well as developing the plans for the new hospital in the Forest of Dean.

Was there a women, or women, who inspired you to want to work for the NHS?
No one specific, I always wanted to be a nurse and was very focused on getting the number of ‘O’ levels (as they were back then) to enable me to enter into my chosen career.

What has been your most proud moment working for the Trust?
I haven’t really been with the Trust that long and most of it has been during Covid so my proudest moment has been to continue to provide a wide range of support throughout the pandemic and support my team to work in a number of re-deployed roles across the pandemic.

Have you faced any challenges as a woman as your career within the NHS has progressed?
Not really – I started off as a student nurse and was lucky to secure a secondment when I was ready to look for a career beyond my clinical one. I have had the benefit of some incredibly supportive managers who have encouraged me and given me the confidence to go for bigger and more challenging roles which have really helped me progress my career.

What challenges do you feel women working the NHS still face today?
I think many women still have challenges in terms of balancing their home and work-life commitments. Particularly women who want to progress a career and work part-time find that there are very few roles that enable this and whilst many employers promote job sharing as an option, in reality, this is often very hard to achieve.

How important to you is it that women support and champion one another in the workplace?
I think it’s really important that we champion and support women across the workplace – we need to ensure that women have a strong voice and that any aspects of discrimination are challenged and called out so that we have a Trust culture that truly values the contribution that everyone makes.

If you could go back in time, is there any advice that you would give to yourself when you first started working for the NHS?
I didn’t have any career aspirations when I started in the NHS, I just wanted to be a nurse so I was completely naïve about the types of role and opportunities that would be available. So, I would probably tell myself to think a bit more about where I wanted to get to in my career and develop a bit of a better plan as most of my career progression feels more luck than judgement.

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