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Patient Voices: diversity stories from staff in NHS South-West

Diversity stories from NHS South-West


The novellist Janette Winterson once described stories as being like the flashes of light that go out from a lighthouse as “markers and guides, comfort and warning”.

NHS staff in the South-West of England – and their patients – come from many ethnic, religious, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and have varying health, experiences, beliefs, genders and sexualities.

We hope that these shared stories of achievement, aspiration and dedication will fulfill a similar role for those who work, or are considering working, in the NHS in the South-West.

Equality in the NHS

Under the Equality Act 2010, NHS organisations have what is called a general equality duty. In practice this means that they must:

  • eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by the Equality Act
  • advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it.
  • foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not share it.

In October 2021, members of NHS staff in the South-West took part in an online Patient Voices reflective digital storytelling workshop so that they could share, in their own words, their own experiences of diversity and working in the NHS. Here are some of their stories.


Little nurse me grows
When Sun first comes to Somerset as a nurse, the weather seems cold and the people distant. But the countryside is beautiful, and the sky so blue. She grows into her role and learns how to help the community understand her, but it is only when she can encourage and support another nurse from the next generation of diverse NHS staff in the South-West that she truly feels she has grown and is at home.

Never give in…
When David’s parents came to the UK, their sense of duty and fairness was not matched by the reception they received. Their determination and hopes for a better future were blocked.
But they never gave up. They kept their sense of family values, even when their son was suffering from the entrenched bias and bigotry in society, systems and institutions that saw only his colour.
But he never gave up. He went on a journey, finding in the Army achievement, success and recognition. That journey continued across the globe until it settled in the South-West.
David never gave up on making things better – in schools, with challenged young people, and then in the NHS, with diverse staff and patients. This is his story.

Who am I and why am I here?
Who is Emma?
Is she the professional cake designer?
Is she the mixed-race wife and mother?
Is she the mother who cared for her child for 211 days?
Is she the “Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Lead”?
Or is she here, in the NHS in the South-West, planning, writing and developing programmes and events to change nurses’ lives, doctors’ days, physios’ routines and health care assistant’s training because on the darkest of those 211 days, those staff around her were her light?

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