Wales CNO says she will not tolerate discrimination and neither should others

Posted: 20th October 2021

The new chief nursing officer (CNO) for Wales has said she is “really clear” about the value she brings to the profession and would not hesitate in calling out discrimination.

Sue Tranka, who was an international recruit from South Africa more than 20 years ago, became the UK’s first country-level CNO from a minority ethnic background when she was appointed in April 2021.

Ms Tranka, who was previously a deputy CNO within NHS England, replaced Professor Jean White who retired after 10 years in post.

Attending the Queen’s Nursing Institute’s annual conference last week, Ms Tranka was asked during a panel session whether she had experienced any challenges being a woman of colour in this role.

“No, I have not, but I am not very tolerant of that sort of thing,” she said in response.

“I am really clear about my value that I bring to this profession. I am really clear about the power that I have in terms of the professional power I hold. I am very clear about my contribution and my seat at the table [and] I think I use it quite wisely.”

However, she added: “Now, that does not mean I won’t have challenge – I probably will at some point [and] how I respond to that challenge will be interesting.

“I think as a woman in leadership, in any event, we experience some sort of challenge.”

She explained, for example, that when being the only woman in the room, “often you are spoken over”.

She went on to stress that if she did experience this type of challenge she would “lean heavily” into the support around her, including from her fellow CNOs across the UK, and call it out.

“I’m fairly new in role, but I’m quite a force to be reckoned with… but I do know where my support is,” added Ms Tranka.

“I also want to easily call out unacceptable behaviour, and I’m quite intolerant of it.

“I think that should be right for all of us in the profession, I don’t think it is OK to have any kind of that sort of behaviour exhibited towards any of us.”

Within Ms Tranka’s speech at the virtual conference, she also paid tribute to the profession and thanked community nurses for their “huge contributions” during the coronavirus pandemic.

She recognised the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the workforce and said she was “pleased to see” that “quite a lot” of NHS staff and students had accessed mental health and wellbeing services provided for colleagues in Wales.

As a new CNO, she stressed her priority continued to be workforce.

“It will come as no surprise to anyone here that my ambitions for the future of nursing must be focused on how we get the right workforce, in the right place, with the right training and skill mixing to the needs of our community,” said Ms Tranka.

She added that she was “committed to providing the NHS the workforce it clearly needs to meet the ever-increasing demand”.

Ms Tranka said she also wanted to meet with nurses to hear their priorities and “determine how we secure the future of our profession and build back a fairer society”.

Source: Nursing Times

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