Anna Awoliyi is our Chief Allied health Information Officer (CAHIO). As part of our profiling of our inspirational leaders, Anna explains more about her career and experiences as a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) staff member within the NHS.
Beginning her career as a project manager in banking, Anna changed her career and joined the NHS. Initially, Anna worked as an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP).
“I wanted to do something that was patient-facing and I wanted to work in a hospital,” says Anna.
Following her clinical roles, Anna moved back into project management within the NHS and is currently our CAHIO.
“I love working at KGH and working in the digital team. We’re working hard to make KGH the most digitally advanced hospital in the UK and I’m so proud of the work we’re doing”
Anna explains that traditionally, digital projects didn’t always begin with a clinical approach. However, this is the best approach to these projects to encourage everyone to see the value.
“Having technology projects be clinically led has made a huge difference within the organisation. From the perception of IT and impact of the new digital tech being used within KGH” says Anna.
“Projects aren’t just about getting the digital product delivered. It’s about understanding the needs of the stakeholder and ensuring that these are met and that the solution works for them” says Anna. “Our Vitals project is a year old this week. The success of the project is down to all of the teams that have embraced Vitals to make it a success”
“I love that the KGH Virtual Visiting has now had over 1000 visits in a four-month period and that the digital projects have had a positive impact on our patients in different ways. Whether it’s Care Flow Vitals or Virtual Visiting; everything has had a benefit for our patients at its heart”
Anna is also a member of the Shuri Network. This is a network for women of colour who work in digital healthcare. The network will challenge the system to take action in supporting women of colour to succeed in their careers.
“The group look at the inequality within healthcare for people of colour,” says Anna. “For example, the way a job description has been written might unintentionally disadvantage people from a BAME background. The statistics tell us that the more diverse workforce an organisation has, the more productive it is. We want NHS organisations to be more inclusive and work with them to do this”.
October is Black History month in the UK. As part of this Anna reflected on some of the obstacles she has faced during her career.
“I can think of examples during my career where I have experienced discrimination or obstacles due to my background. These might be direct, but some can be subtle” says Anna. “Sometimes being the only person of colour in a room of peers can be intimidating”
Anna explains that these experiences can make a person stronger.
“Part of my role involves visiting wards. I can think of a number of people who have come to me, knowing I’m in a band 8 role and asked how I got to my position”.
“It’s humbling to know that people have progressed within KGH and the NHS because of a simple conversation”
Anna had taken a part in the ‘Ready Now’ programme managed by the NHS Leadership Academy. This is an initiative for senior BAME leaders within the NHS to take the next step within their careers.
“This was a safe space to have a conversation. You cannot shy away from the system; we are all part of the system. It’s about how we work with the system to ensure people of colour are seen and heard.”
As a BAME member of staff, Anna reports that she is seeing change through the organisation.
“I’d like to continue supporting the development of our BAME staff; encouraging them to have a mentor to help build them up and get them ready to take on a leadership role when they’re ready,” says Anna. “I’d like to help our Trust continue to progress our BAME staff into leadership positions across the Trust”.
Anna recently recorded a video with colleagues about the Vitals project. You can watch this on our YouTube channel