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29th Oct 2020
This year the theme of Black History Month is to educate and celebrate as part of understanding racism and standing in solidarity against it. We’re extremely lucky to have such a talented and diverse workforce here at Alder Hey. Meet Tolu and Leroy who tell us a little about their journey in the NHS.
Tolu Awogbemi is originally from Nigeria and a proud Mancunian. She has worked in the NHS for over 15 years and been a consultant at Alder Hey since 2016.
Tolu is committed to supporting people to realise their full potential and become the best version of themselves. At work, this passion is expressed in her role as the lead of the mentoring scheme for trainees. She is also the clinical governance lead in the general paediatrics department and a member of other committees within Alder Hey whose focus is quality improvement. She is enthusiastic about medical education and works with both the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health and the General Medical Council to support processes that ensure that junior doctors working in the UK are fully qualified and competent to deliver the best care to NHS patients.
About working at Alder Hey, Tolu says: “What I love most about my job is the opportunity to put a smile on the faces of children and their parents and carers. It doesn’t matter if it’s been a brief or long admission episode, the phrase “we would like to discharge you home today” is always met with real expression of joy on the part of patients & their parents/carers and this gives me a deep sense of fulfilment.”
Leroy James is a Consultant Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon and is originally from Trinidad and Tobago. Leroy’s job involves looking after children and young people with injuries or abnormalities of their musculoskeletal system (bone and joints). He is currently the departmental clinical lead for Orthopaedics and the most senior clinician in the limb reconstruction service.
In regards to his journey to becoming a senior orthopaedic consultant as a black man, he says, ‘It has probably been less straightforward than my non BAME counterparts. I’ve not had the luxury of staying in one or two regions for the duration of my training. I had to go to numerous interviews in different places until I was accepted to jobs that will count towards my training. On occasions, I would be met with scepticism by both colleagues and patients. However, once given the opportunity, actions speak louder than words and acceptance albeit slowly, would be more forthcoming. Since becoming, a consultant, there are still pockets of inherent (institutional) disbelief that the black doctor is the senior doctor.’ However, he also says, ‘whilst, there is still some way to go for the NHS to become all inclusive to everyone, in my 23+ years in the NHS, I’ve noticed a definite shift in culture and inclusiveness for the better.’
On the topic of Black History Month, Leroy states, ‘Black History Month helps to celebrate the achievements of many black people that have gone unrecognised or below the radar. It helps the current generation of black people to have role models to aspire to. My dream would be to see the day when there is no longer a Black History Month but History that reflects the triumphs and tribulations of people of all ethnic groups and social strata. I hope that my story of an average black man from a single parent family serve as an inspiration for all people regardless of their ethnic and social standing.’
Alder Hey Children's Charity