Julie Roye is joint facilitator of the GPN BME Network with Robana Hussein-Mills. Here she writes about the new network and invites you to join. This blog was originally published on the NHS Joint Collaboration Platform.
Welcome to our first blog. This has been a really challenging time both professionally and socially with everything that is happening throughout the world. We would have never guessed that the Year of the Nurse and Midwife was truly going to test us on every level!
Life can be funny sometimes. I started the Rosalind Franklin leadership course which was promoted by Karen Storey the Primary Care lead nurse at the most challenging time of my life. I had just had an operation in April 2019 and thought I was going to be fit and well. To my surprise the first course dates were at the Shiny Mind day in Leeds in May and I had no strength! I attended the three compulsory days in London in June and met nurses from all over England.
To my surprise out of 30 plus nurses there were only two nurses from a BME background. I must admit I was not impressed to see the lack of uptake for the course from BME colleagues (which I am aware would have been for several reasons) however it did not take away my disappointment. My mentor invited me to the CNO SAG conference in October 2019 in Bristol and began introducing me to many influential nurses both from BME and non-BME backgrounds. It was here that my infused passion began in regards to making a difference with BME GPNs. I sat here in London at the start of the year, and thought things have got to change, it’s 2020!
How interesting that Robana in Nottingham was also thinking of ways in which we could both impact BME GPN issues, though I didn’t know her at the time. I was having a conversation with Karen Storey about the lack of support for BME GPNs and that we are forgotten in primary care. I laughed when Karen said to me there is a nurse in Nottingham who has the same vision as you regarding BME issues; let’s get you two together. Since then we have been working on how to launch our network and I am pleased to say it is here, hence you are reading our blog.
The impact of COVID-19 is an ongoing saga for BME colleagues and the community. The disproportionate rate of death has disappointed and horrified me. I have never felt fearful for my own life at work and must admit that I shed many tears. Things got worse with the terrible news of the murder of George Floyd in May by police in the USA and this has given a sense of greater urgency to the need to confront race issues, inequality and social justice across the globe and here in England.
These issues should have been addressed years ago and the struggle to let our voice be heard should not be due to all the persistent inequalities that have been noted in this year alone. It is with real urgency that we build a deeper awareness that promotes empathy and understanding in the working environment and the difficulties that BME staff members face.
We hope that these critical issues will be faced, that we are able to impact policies and take steps to improve the underlying systemic racial issues which have given too much pre-eminence to social and professional injustices. We are under no illusion that having a national BME GPN network will mean that we too will be tested and that we will show some of our vulnerabilities, but please be patient with us as we take on this brave feat!
We need allies as we are not going to make a difference on our own, so this group will be different to other BME groups that you may have seen.
We need your support, so a call to action from us: have you joined the GPN BME network and completed the ‘Network contact information’ with your name and email address?
Here is the link for you to join and share with others: https://bit.ly/gpnbamenetwork
We’d love your comments and feedback.
Advanced Nurse Practitioner and Primary Care Nurse Consultant Lewisham Clinical Commissioning group
Note: the terms ‘BME’ – Black and Minority Ethnic and ‘BAME’ – Black Asian and Minority Ethnic are both used in the Network.