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Hospital trust finalists in national award for inspiring diversity and inclusivity network

Posted: 26 November 2021

Picture of staff at ceremonies

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) are celebrating being finalists in the national Health Service Journal (HSJ) awards for the inspiring work of their Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff network, who engaged and supported the BAME workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The impact of COVID-19 has been significant in west Hertfordshire and at Watford General Hospital in particular.

As news spread that people from BAME communities were disproportionately affected by COVID-19, the trust wanted to provide additional support to its staff, 41% of whom are from BAME communities.

A group of dedicated colleagues came together in spring 2020 to relaunch the network (called Connect BAME) so that staff had access to instant support and a safe space to address race related and other issues.

Since the establishment of the BAME network, the trust has celebrated the diversity of all staff during its All Stars Week. The week celebrated the 80 plus nationalities working for West Herts with events across the week including music, dance and food highlighting a different nationality each day. Another initiative included making interview panels more representative of the trust’s diverse workforce.

The network’s impact was exemplified by the fact that 12 members of the group were nominated in the national BAME Health and Care Awards 2021, taking home five wins. The group was also recognised by the trust when they won the ‘Everyone Matters Award’ at the trust’s ‘Stars of Herts’ staff awards night.

Tejal Vaghela, Connect BAME joint chair, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the work of Connect BAME. We have provided our BAME workforce with support at a time of distress, ensuring that they feel included, engaged and valued.

“We have improved cultural awareness, making all colleagues feel valued, empowered and involved in key decisions. We have been celebrating our diversity, shining a light on our achievements and working closely with others to ensure all voices are heard. We think this work will help with our retention of existing staff and in recruiting new colleagues.

“The group’s important work and presence within the trust continues to grow. The network is now an integral part of the trust and continues to create positive changes and promote inclusivity within the trust.”

Endorsement for the group came from the top, with regular involvement from the trust’s chief executive Christine Allen. She said: “I really valued the honesty with which issues were raised and the warmth of the welcome from our BAME network. Conversations weren’t always easy but they have led to a more open discussions and a recognition that we could and should do more to support our amazing BAME staff.”


  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: 01923 436280 or email: Out of hours, please call the Watford General Hospital switchboard on 01923 244366 and ask for the on call communications manager.
  2. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust has a catchment area of over 500,000 people and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,000 staff and volunteers.
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