Leon Ghulam
Job Title

Race Equality Programme Lead, Hampshire and Isle of Wight ICB
and Regional Programme Lead NHS South East Region

Where are you based?

Home working and in NHS offices around the region.

Is your role clinical or non-clinical?

Non-clinical

Why did you decide to join the NHS?

I knew from an early age that I wanted a career in health and to help people. The NHS is a unique and critical part of all our lives.

Briefly explain your job

The work my team and I lead stretches across all the NHS trusts in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to ensure equality among colleagues – that regardless of race we all have the same rights and opportunities. As well as working on behalf of the 55,000 employees in hospitals, health centres, GP practices and NHS offices, I work closely with local authorities like city and county councils to grow and share knowledge in our communities. This means looking at ethnic diversity, health inequalities, areas of higher deprivation and the challenges that inequality can present to our people and communities.

In my role as Regional Lead for the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Allied Health Professionals (BAME AHP) Strategic Advisory Group for the NHS across the South East of England, I focus specifically on ensuring there is equality of opportunity for the 14 different careers falling under AHP – this includes paramedics, physiotherapists, radiographers, occupational therapists, and therapists including art, drama, music and speech and language therapists.

How did you join the NHS?

I have always loved sport and as a younger person I wanted to be a PE teacher. After GCSEs, I studied A Levels in PE, Biology and IT. I came across physiotherapy as an option, which to me was a great way to combining fitness and helping people. I went to the University of West England in Bristol to study Physiotherapy where as part of my degree, I completed several placements in hospitals. I started as a junior physio at Basingstoke Hospital in 2004 and have worked for the NHS ever since. Two years ago, I had the opportunity to turn my passion for race equality into a career, which I love. I am still a registered physiotherapist and practice in my spare time.  

What’s your day-to-day like?

Every day is different and that’s one of the things that makes the NHS such a great place to work. Something my team and I are involved with is the Workforce Race Equality Standard, which is something all NHS Trusts complete. There are indicators I’ll be exploring, including lots of data that gives us information, including information from staff surveys.  We’ll be looking at colleagues’ opportunity for promotion, their access to training and if we are how we are reaching those who don’t have English as a first language. We want to level up and improve the numbers.

My team and I are focusing on different workstreams, looking at equality across recruitment, talent management, communications, training, culturally competent health and wellbeing offers. I will often be out and about too, working closely with other community partners and colleagues across the different trusts.

What are some of the challenges?

Working in the NHS is demanding and challenging but extremely rewarding, with a stable environment and lots of opportunities. Seeing some of the inequalities faced by our people in their lives can be difficult to understand, and there are times you can’t do all the things you want to.

What is the best part of your role?

The people. I work as part of a small team who are just as passionate as me about helping people. Every day I get to use problem solving and communications skills. I am also proud that we are one workforce doing what we do for the communities around us.

What’s your top tip for developing a career at the NHS?  

There is always career progression for anyone who is passionate about the NHS. Be brave. Don’t be afraid to dip your toe in the water. The NHS is a vast place – away from grades and qualifications, your life experience counts for a lot. The NHS is the beating heart of our community with so many opportunities. Come and explore!

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