Feature: APNA Conference 2022 | Asma Nafees
Asma Nafees gives a roundup of the launch event for the Asian Professionals’ National Alliance (APNA) NHS Staff Network
This year marked the 74th birthday of the NHS, which provided an opportunity to take time to reflect on the achievements of the NHS and all those who have played a part in its growth and evolution. At heart of the NHS is the staff, and we know that, to meet the challenges facing the NHS, the need to engage with employee voices is more compelling than ever.
APNA is also a South Asian word which when translated means ‘Our’
As joint chairs, Jagtar Singh and I, alongside the incredibly hardworking Conference Committee, were delighted to plan our launch of the APNA NHS Staff Network at the Inaugural Conference in September 2022, at Warwick University.
APNA stands for Asian Professionals’ National Alliance, a voluntary body formed of South Asian Heritage NHS health and social care workers. APNA is also a South Asian word which when translated means ‘Our’. APNA acts as a platform for the promotion of our collective voices, in particular those of South Asian heritage NHS leaders, via collaboration and active engagement.
From a group of three in an Indian restaurant, a WhatsApp group developed, and since then the group has grown from 3 to nearly 300, with over 2,000 followers on twitter.
Our two-day conference had 200 booked members with workshops, presentations, panel discussions and networking, focused on understanding the issues and on garnering innovative ideas to address both workforce and health inequalities.
We were extremely proud of the diversity in the room – diversity of background and heritage, not limited to the South Asian community, and diversity of roles within the NHS ¬– and proud of the buzz of common purpose that grew over the two days.
APNA NHS grew from humble beginnings. Approximately eight years ago Jagtar Singh, Habib Naqvi and Maqsood Ahmed met at the NHS Providers Confed, and discussed the benefit of a supportive South Asian network that could be a platform for other Asian staff networks and a force to galvanise the Asian voice, ranging from board members, clinical leaders and grass-roots staff. From a group of three in an Indian restaurant, a WhatsApp group developed, and since then the group has grown from 3 to nearly 300, with over 2,000 followers on twitter.
[Our goal is to] ensure the NHS is built on solid foundations, principles of shared values, equality, compassion and a determination to eradicate workforce and health inequalities
APNA can now claim a number of positive outcome achievements in a very short time:
The appointment of over 20 Trust NEDs and Executives from within our network.
The raising of £50,000 for the crisis in India Covid-19 appeal in 2021 as well as the provision of peer support to Indian hospitals.
The producing of a Covid Toolkit in the wake of Covid which signposted resources for South Asian communities to help alleviate vaccine resitance.
The building of a strategic partnership with many stakeholders and the 190 delegates at APNA’s inaugural conference.
As we look forward to 26 years’ time when the NHS will be 100 years old, things will no doubt be radically different. But we are confident that the APNA NHS staff network and its members will have played their part to ensure the NHS is built on solid foundations, principles of shared values, equality, compassion and a determination to eradicate workforce and health inequalities, two of the key themes of our conference.
Asma Nafees is the Chief Analytics Officer at Arden & GEM CSU - currently on secondment to NHS England as the Assistant Director of Rehabilitation within the Discharge and Community Services team, Primary, Community and Personalised Care Directorate. She is also an Associate Non-Executive Director with Derbyshire Community Health Services FT, and a Trustee with Birmingham-based social care charity Lisieux Trust.
Having started her professional life as a commercial solicitor in a private practice, she subsequently carved a career in the NHS, gaining experience of contracting, transformation, planning, performance and business intelligence.
Asma holds a Masters in Healthcare Leadership (NHS Leadership Academy), and has been accepted on the Midlands and East Talent (MEET) scheme which nurtures talent for NHS Boards of the future.
Genevieve Shaw, Founder & Editor-in-chief
email@example.com / @WomenNHS