Buki Adeyemo, Interim Chief Executive, North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust
Coming to work in the NHS from Nigeria and leading a mental health Trust rated outstanding by the CQC
When Buki Adeyemo was sixteen, she experienced a defining moment. A victim of a hit and run outside her house in Lagos did not receive timely help. Emergency services were not the same as in the UK. “I felt so powerless,” she says, “and I thought, ‘If only I were a doctor, I could have intervened.’” She had been planning to study Pharmacy, but from that point she decided to read Medicine: “which pleased my dad who was a doctor!” she laughs.
"It was difficult to settle and make friends." Twenty years ago, there was very little help available for international medical graduates.
Buki graduated from the University of Lagos in 1991 and first practised medicine in Nigeria, but seeing patients, especially children, suffering and dying from preventable deaths as a result of poverty broke her heart. Healthcare was not free. She made the decision to come to the UK and joined the NHS in 1997.
“For me, coming from Nigeria, the NHS was the place to be,” she states. “I had heard the wonderful things about healthcare being free at the point of need. That’s not heard of in Nigeria. The NHS was different, and I was very curious both in terms of the culture and the practice.”
It was not always easy. There is the need to sit qualifying exams and then find training placements, which usually only lasted for six months at a time. “It was difficult to settle and make friends,” she recalls. Twenty years ago, there was very little help available for international medical graduates. Since then, Buki has been personally involved in developing a welcome package with guidance for international medical graduates, on behalf of the Workforce Race Equality Standards Strategic Group.
Digital innovation at the Trust has also seen Combined Healthcare recently launch its own dedicated 24/7 digital TV channel ... which Buki also presents segments on.
Buki became a consultant old age psychiatrist in 2007. She became Medical Director in 2012. She is now the interim Chief Executive of North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare Trust – one of very few mental health Trusts to be rated outstanding by the CQC.
“It is an honour to lead a Trust which I have been part of for the majority of my working career,” she says. “Everyone who works for and with Combined Healthcare work tirelessly to provide the best possible care. We are not complacent in our outstanding status and we make it clear that we want our journey of improvement to continue – to be outstanding in all we do, and how we do it. This includes recruiting the very best to join our excellent teams.
“We do see ourselves as a family at Combined Healthcare, and Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire is a fantastic location to work in.”
Buki is clearly passionate about working in the field of mental health, especially in the specialism of old age Psychiatry. Although Covid presented problems for them, it has also put the spotlight on mental health. And she has a twin passion for harnessing the power of digital technology. So it was with particular pleasure that she was able to welcome to the Trust she leads, marking World Delirium Day this year, the launch of a highly innovative training virtual reality (VR) film to help frontline healthcare staff create conversations and increase their understanding and empathy towards those with delirium.
"Everybody, regardless of what you do or who you are, works together to ensure that the absolute best care is delivered. That is what I love about it – the togetherness and the diversity.”
As Buki said on the launch day of the VR film: “As an older person's clinician, as well as a strong advocate for the adoption and spread of new digital tools and technologies, this is a perfect example of how we can marry clinical insight and knowledge with innovation and imagination.”
Digital innovation at the Trust has also seen Combined Healthcare recently launch its own dedicated 24/7 digital TV channel Combined TV, or CTV for short, which Buki also presents segments on.
“Digital transformation, from VR to CTV, the launch of our All Age Wellbeing Portal online to digital improvements through the Community Mental Health Transformation Programme is really advancing the Trust,” she states. “The Community Aide app, for example, allows our community staff to complete their notes of visits and care offline and in situ.”
Over the years, Buki has seen many continuous improvements in the NHS and praises its diversity and outputs. "Everybody, regardless of what you do or who you are, works together to ensure that the absolute best care is delivered. That is what I love about it – the togetherness and the diversity.”
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