We at Yeovil Hospital pride ourselves on inclusivity and diversity; this is why we are introducing monthly segments with members of staff about their experience of working in the NHS as an ethnic minority. 

This month Specialty Doctor, Ebunoluwa Daramola, focuses on how his upbringing in Nigeria has helped him navigate the NHS since moving to the UK two years ago, has joined us. 

Can you tell me about your background, before the NHS?

 “I was born in Nigeria and have lived most of my life there; I have only been within the UK for the last two years. Monday 2 November was my second anniversary of moving to England. I grew up in a state called Lagos in the southwest of Nigeria. Lagos is a wildly popular place for tourists, known as the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria , as well as for its beaches, boutiques and nightlife. Due to its cosmopolitan nature, I had exposure to different ethnicities in Lagos, which exposed me to many different cultures I would not likely have had access to elsewhere in Nigeria.  

Before moving to the UK I worked at a Federal Teaching hospital in Lagos that had its fair share of diverse patients and clinical experts, which was a wonderful experience, nevertheless I am glad to be here at Yeovil Hospital.” 

Was your NHS journey affected by your background? If so, how? 

“I would like to think so. Growing up in a cosmopolitan city and working with different ethnicities at a federal hospital in Lagos offered some sort of preparation towards the diversity in the NHS. I was comfortable and happy to be surrounded by so much culture, which definitely made my transition into the NHS a better one.”

How have you found working in the NHS as an ethnic minority? 

“Before starting at YDH a year ago, I worked in the private sector for a health and fitness company as a doctor, which was not so inclusive; I was one of a few minority figures. I can vividly remember a couple of times when both my colleagues and patients would make subtle racist remarks towards me, which didn’t make the experience of working there the most pleasant on a few occasions.. 

Just prior to my working in the private sector, I was given a four-week clinical attachment within the NHS to see how the organisation worked and how I could adopt some of the strategies into my job. While I was there, I was quite impressed  by the support and kindness of everyone I met. What was even better was I wasn’t the only ethnic doctor and no one seemed bothered by that fact. This was key in my eventual decision to work in the NHS.”

Have you enjoyed working at YDH? 

“When I saw the advert for working at Yeovil Hospital and how they focused on providing brilliant welfare for both staff and patients, I knew I had to work here. After experiencing the kindness from my clinical attachment, I knew I deserved better. I was also excited to join the Trust because it was an NHS Trust and I have always wanted to work for one. The NHS is very well known within Nigeria and I wanted to be part of it. 

The department I work in now is simply the best. I do not have a bad word to say about anyone or any aspect of the department. They have been quite supportive since I resumed and are a wonderful team to work with.  I love the overall Trust, the diversity of people is fantastic and everyone is so friendly and supportive. Nothing is ever too much trouble for anyone within this Trust.” 

Do you have any advice for other that want to work their way up in the NHS as an ethnic minority? 

“I do have some advice, come to work with a smile and try and get the best out of each day as you can. I know starting in a new role can be daunting, I have only been here for a year and I was overwhelmed trying to adjust to how the team worked and I was still relatively new to the UK and Yeovil so navigating that with a new job was difficult. But don’t ever be afraid to ask for help or support and it is okay to make mistakes. My team were great at showing me the ropes and helping me develop relationships with other members of staff throughout the hospital. So never be afraid to take a new step in your career, you will always have support when you need it.”  

Are there any aspects of YDH inclusion programme you find works really well?

“Being in a place that employs a high percentage of staff from different nationalities is fantastic. It has given me the chance to experience and bond with those of different cultures that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Pre-COVID, I would often get together with colleagues to share each other’s cultures. The most recent before the COVID-19 pandemic, was when I was invited to my colleague’s house who is Filipino to sample his culture for the night. It was a great way of making new friends and trying some amazing food. I hope that in the near future we can all experience nights like this again. 

With our inclusion and diversity programme now being wildly advertised, I think more staff will be open to driving into another culture. And I think the more we talk about our inclusivity in and outside of the Trust, more people will want to work within the Trust.” 

Are there any improvements, you think, we as a Trust could make regarding inclusion? 

“I think like anything there is always room for improvements.  One aspect I think would help improve our programme is to break the barrier with different nationalities throughout the hospital. Each department will say they have a great relationship with everyone on their team but could be completely unaware of some of the other members of staff within a different department. We need to open the door for everyone, both clinical and non-clinical staff to have the opportunity to engage with each other and share their voices, countries and cultures. However, how this could be done with COVID is another question?

Furthermore, I believe having increased representation of ethnic minorities in decision making roles within the Trust and the NHS at large would help foster inclusion. Nevertheless, I am sure Emma Symonds in her new role is already on it.” 

We love getting the chance to dive deeper into our staff’s lifestyle and getting the opportunity to share it with our YDH family. If you would like to share with us, please email us on MinoritiesNetwork@ydh.nhs.uk