Breaking Through Conference celebrates NHS workforce diversity

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Breaking Through conferenceThe Breaking Through Programme stimulated and enlightened at its annual Conference on 23rd October at the Novotel Hammersmith in London. Taking the famous slogan ‘Yes we can!’ as an inspiration the conference theme was a celebration of the diversity agenda achievements over the past year. The 700-strong audience was reminded of the crucial role of diversity in providing best care for patients and the need for continued striving towards a fair representation of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups at senior level in the NHS.



David NicholsonDavid Nicholson, CEO of the NHS, said: “We must ensure that diversity is at the centre of all we do and how we care for our patients.”

“In the current climate, diversity becomes even more important in facing up to the challenges ahead, connecting with patients and communities”, continued Nicholson.



In the evening before the conference, Breaking Through programme alumni received a certificate acknowledging their participation in the programme. Attending the event, Lord Nigel Crisp, early supporter of the programme said: “It is great to see how the programme has been sustained and further developed. The amount of energy and commitment I saw here today is a guarantee that the programme alumni are certainly making a difference”.

Back at the conference, delegates had an opportunity to hear from Bernard Crump, NHS Institute CEO, who recognised the need to step up efforts to better reflect diversity at board level.  “We need to double our efforts and make it happen faster. To improve quality in the NHS we need to innovate, and at the heart of innovation is diversity”, said Crump.

ReneCarayol.jpgAnother keynote speaker who delivered a compelling speech was Rene Carayol. The MBE broadcaster and author drew on his own personal experiences to show that although much still remains to be done, diversity and race relationships have travelled a long way in society.

“Wrong assumptions are the world’s great opportunities. Talent hasn’t got passport, gender or colour.

“Culture is more powerful than strategy, if you want to have better ideas you want to have diversity. We should celebrate diversity as an important ingredient to success”, said Carayol.

On the second half of the day a panel formed by directors of the National Leadership Council responded to questions from the hosts and audience. Panellist Prem Singh, Central and Greater Derby PCT CEO and one of the only 5 BME chief executives within the NHS, said:

“Together we can bring about the change that is needed. The Breaking Trough programme has been a catalyst for change, providing the confidence, skills and opportunities so as to operate at senior level, gaining experience and being exposed to a leadership environment. We are now beginning to see good evidence that our efforts are paying back.”

As well as hearing from NHS directors and other fantastic keynote speakers, delegates took part in workshops throughout the day. This included from how to promote and support the diversity agenda within the NHS to an introduction to neuro-linguistic programming.

Closing the event, Yvonne Coghill, Breaking Through National Programme Lead said: “We are going to need real Yes We Can attitudes to navigate the choppy waters ahead. I believe that together we can ensure the NHS is an institution to be proud of and one that fully embraces diversity and inclusion, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

What the Breaking Through alumni have to say:

Richard StubbsBreaking Through continues to drive the diversity agenda in the NHS. The National Leadership Council is clear that inclusion runs through our entire work programme and objectives, and Breaking Through is instrumental in delivering the leaders that will implement this change, Richard Stubbs, Associate Director, Corporate Strategy, Derbyshire County PCT and  Emerging Leaders core member at the National Leadership Council.








Jenny YaoAs one of the participants on the Breaking Through Top Talent programme, I have benefited hugely from this scheme. The programme has widened my network, helped me to be more aware of my management style, to be more influential and to realise my potential. Jenny Yao, Assistant Director, Quality Improvement, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust




Michael BuckleThis conference is evidence that we no longer stand on the threshold of fundamental changes, we have already crossed that threshold, and we are transforming leadership in the NHS. Michael Buckle, UHB Foundation Trust, Associate Director of Pharmacy Redesign.




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