A NURSING director working alongside England’s chief nursing officer to support nurses from ethnic minorities will ensure the voices of the workforce in the North-East and Yorkshire are heard.

Annie Topping, executive director of nursing, quality and patient safety at Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, said it was her mission to make sure diversity among nursing staff was both “recognised and valued” and that staff differences were embraced.

Annie, who moved to the UK from Hong Kong around 30 years ago, was hand-picked by NHS England and Improvement to work as the regional system chief nurse to support CNO Ruth May’s national action plan for supporting the development, opportunity and leadership of ethnic minority nurses and midwives which was launched last year. The CNO ethnic minorities action plan, established in 2020, spans a range of actions and initiatives “with a common goal to ensure all nurses and midwives are valued and respected, and have equality of opportunity, irrespective of their ethnicity”, according to NHS England.

Annie, whose clinical background was largely in critical care and transplant services, is working to support the action plan by providing “professional clinical advice” for her region. She is also helping the CNO’s international recruitment agenda by supporting work to help nurses coming from overseas to integrate into their new community and retain them.

“I do have my own reflections and challenges along the way, but ultimately, it is about how other people recognise and respect differences and ultimately see them as a positive thing” Annie told Nursing Times.

“It is okay that we are different. And it is about how the NHS values and embraces differences, because I feel the contributions of nurses from ethnic minority groups is huge. They need to be recognised and valued, because we are part of the NHS family.”