Sunday 5 March 2023 marks Overseas NHS Workers’ Day, a day to celebrate the amazing contributions of international staff working in healthcare. 

We’ve got colleagues from over 140 countries working at SASH and every one of them is a valued part of our #oneteam. We are proud to work together to provide care for patients from all backgrounds and we couldn’t do what we do without our diverse, global workforce. 

Some of our staff have shared their stories.

Find out more about Randolph Armornor, who is a nurse from Ghana. 

RandolphTell us a little about your career and why you chose to pursue it.

I am a nurse and I love being a nurse. When I was a young man in Ghana deciding what to do with my future, there was a lot of contemplation and negotiation at home with my mother; going to university had to guarantee work at the end. Having finally decided to undertake nurse training I had a placement in paediatrics, and I still describe when I am asked what I love about my work, that feeling I get when I have children smiling happily when they get better.

Whilst in Ghana I joined the paediatric emergency department and quickly gained the trust of my peers and was sometimes nurse in charge. The doctor leading the paediatric emergency project became a mentor to most of us at the unit, she regularly met with us and encouraged us to think about our impact on society, not just through our roles as health professionals. I became involved in many projects to support health promotion at schools, churches, and social gatherings. I also got involved in fundraising for new incubators for premature babies, which led to the reduction of infant mortality in that region.

After two and a half years in service, I was made the clinical care coordinator. This new role gave me the opportunity to coordinate with social services, health institutions, stakeholders, benevolent benefactors, and other institutions. I was involved in investigating patients’ complaints and healthcare outcomes and this exposed me to the challenges within our healthcare system.

After six years of working in that setting, I decided I needed a big move. I decided to travel outside Ghana to practice as nurse because I felt I would gain more knowledge and experience of how things are organised in western countries that may later benefit my eventual return to Ghana.

What’s different about practicing in the NHS to practicing in your home country? Did anything surprise you?

My first few months in England were blissful, but after I began work, I realised it is not as easy to settle as I initially thought. I questioned my own abilities and felt like I did not fit. I often had the opinion that I was not adequately prepared for work here, hence I decided to liaise with the international practice development team on areas I felt I fell short on and proposed some ideas to aid others when they make the transition.

After a year, I still was not settled and had low confidence which led to low morale and at times I considered leaving. I also knew that I had worked extremely competently in emergency departments caring for very sick children, before coming to England. In March 2020 I had a real breakthrough, Jane Dickson, chief nurse of the trust, who I had seen when she came into our emergency department and we sometimes spoke asked if I could join her with other colleagues to attend the Chief Nursing Officer Conference. The conversations we had with Jane and what I saw and heard at the conference particularly about the diversity and inclusion agenda broadened my view of opportunities as a nurse in the UK. I was so excited and felt if all she said were true, there really was an opportunity to develop and progress. At the conference, we had a chat over breakfast with the CNO of England and other chiefs on international recruitment and there was a plan for us to act as informal advisers to the national program.

My dream is to one day return to Africa with a different approach and to play my part in empowering people to take responsibility for their health problems and help develop the policies required to build a better health system.

What advice would you give to those who wish to start a career in the NHS?

Get involved with the staff network (the Cultural Inclusion Champions Network) and keep communicating with your colleagues as to what could change the experiences of people of ethnic minorities.

What do you miss about home (work or otherwise)?

I miss home; I miss everything, from the warm weather to the sand on the ground. I miss my family and my friends. I miss the food. But I have made new friends and family here too. Now I have two homes, which means I have more than usual.

In celebration of Overseas NHS Workers’ Day and thanks to the SASH catering team, from Monday 6 to Friday 10 March we invite you to dine at Three Arches Restaurant and enjoy a variety of international dishes.

Allergens will be visibly displayed at the counter. Specials will be available at lunchtime, from 12pm midday. Staff discount will be applied at the till.