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Celebrating Black History Month: Pioneers in Healthcare

Celebrating Black History Month: Pioneers in Healthcare

14 October 2020
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This month, MSI are celebrating the contributions made by black healthcare professionals to the NHS.​ Below are some of our healthcare heroes.

Key facts, figures and information about the NHS workforce

  • 6.1 per cent of staff in the NHS identify as being from a black background

  • 4.6 per cent of the medical workforce and 6.3 per cent of the non-medical workforce in the NHS are from a black background

  • 1.2 per cent of very senior managers working in the NHS are black

  • 3.5 per cent of senior managers (bands 8a-9) and 6.7 per cent (bands 5-7) identify as black

  • 3.5 per cent of senior doctors, 6.2 per cent of junior doctors and 2.06 per cent of other doctors are from black backgrounds

Mary Jane Seacole

Mary Jane Seacole was a British-Jamaican nurse, healer and businesswoman who set up the "British Hotel" behind the lines during the Crimean War to nurse wounded servicemen. She was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991. In 2004, she was voted the greatest black Briton.

Kofoworola Abeni Pratt

Chief Kofoworola Abeni Pratt Hon. FRCN, a Nigerian-born nurse, was the first black nurse to work in Britain's National Health Service. She subsequently became vice-president of the International Council of Nurses and the first black Chief Nursing Officer of Nigeria, working in the Federal Ministry of Health.

Daphne Steele

In 1964 Guyanese nurse Daphne Steele was appointed the first Black Matron in the National Health Service at St Winifred’s Hospital in Ilkley, Yorkshire.

Professor Justus Akinsanya

Best known for developing the Akinsanya model of bionursing, Professor Justus Akinsanya was the first BME Nursing Professor at the Dorset Institute, (now Bournemouth University). He went on to become the first BME nurse on the English National Board for Nursing and Midwifery.

Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu

Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu DBE FRCN became the UK’s first sickle cell nurse specialist, helped establish the Brent Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Counselling centre and created the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice at the University of West London. She holds a PhD and was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Professor David Sallah

Awarded the first Mary Seacole leadership award for his work in investigating ‘effectiveness of mental Health services with a view to develop outcomes measures for forensic mental health’. Professor Sallah went on to work on many national developments and enquiries around mental health and BME issues.