Celebration for the ambassador of equality who has seen the NHS from every angle

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Carol Baxter

19 / 7 / 2013 Midnight

An activist, academic, author, policymaker and ex-nurse and midwife, Professor Carol Baxter CBE has been named among Health Service Journal’s (HSJ) fifty Most Inspirational Women In Healthcare.

Judges at the London ceremony said Professor Baxter is “the poster girl for all that is good in the fight against discrimination and prejudice” - recognising her lifelong endeavours and her ongoing work at the NHS Employers organisation.


The HSJ added:


“The charismatic, Jamaican-born lead for NHS Employers on equality, diversity and human rights has won many awards for her work spearheading the fight against discrimination. Partly born out of her early experiences when she arrived in the UK in 1970 to train as a midwife, she’s passionate and knowledgeable - and committed to sharing both qualities as widely as possible, developing a network of local champions to raise the profile of equality and speak out when things are not right.”


Responding to the news, Professor Baxter said:


“I’m thankful for the Health Service Journal and The NHS Leadership Academy’s continuing recognition of how important equality and diversity is to the NHS.


“I love the NHS and its diversity, which is truly one of its strengths. It helps us attract skilled and compassionate workers from far and wide. And we’re proud to be as diverse as the patients we care for.


“Our health service is getting a grip on inequality but the figures show there’s more work to do. Almost two thirds of senior NHS roles are held by men. People of black and minority ethnic groups are under-represented in senior roles, but over-represented in industrial tribunals. Issues like these are receiving a great deal of attention to make sure individuals are supported and problems are addressed.

“No issues of equality are unique to the NHS. But the NHS is a huge service with a very public profile and it is showing leadership by tackling the issues head-on - buoyed by widespread support within its workforce.


“I made major early steps in learning about advocacy during my time in the voluntary sector, so I would like to thank colleagues from both past and present for their support and inspiration.”


Professor Baxter first came to the UK from Jamaica in 1970 to train as a nurse, midwife, health visitor and finally as a health promotion specialist. An activist at heart, she continues to hold several titles as Professor, has published authoritative books including ‘The Black Nurse: An endangered species’ (1988), become senior government advisor and private consultant and worked extensively on lobbying and policymaking (1). She was appointed in 2004 as head of equality and diversity at NHS Employers.


Women are increasingly taking leadership roles in the NHS but still hold fewer senior positions than men and people from black and minority ethnicities are also under-represented. Only 36 per cent of chiefs at hospitals and other healthcare providers are women despite 81 per cent of the non-medical NHS workforce being female.


Among its many projects for the equality, diversity and human rights agenda, NHS Employers is in the second year of its Personal, Fair & Diverse (PFD) campaign and inviting more people to join. This has attracted a vibrant network of 3,500 PFD champions, every one of whom is committed to taking some action to help the agenda. Champions are using the Twitter page, the hashtag #pfdchamps, a LinkedIn group and other channels.

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