A Blackpool embrace for Filipino nursing community

Theatre practitioner Robert Yusay who leads the Cultural Diversity Network

The NHS owes a huge debt to colleagues who left their homes thousands of miles away to join the service from overseas.  

Nurses from the Caribbean were the first significant waves of recruits in the 1960s and then from the Indian sub-continent in 1960s. Nationally, they now make up a fifth of nurses and a third of doctors. 

Both of these communities are represented at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals but it is colleagues whose heritage is in the Philippines who account for the biggest single group. 

Robert Yusay arrived in 2021 as an adaptation nurse and is now a theatre practitioner with the cardiac theatre team. He is also lead for the Cultural Diversity Network which supports internationally recruited colleagues when they arrive at the Trust. 

“I really do have a passion for what the network stands for – helping people who are coming here from different cultures and backgrounds, feeling lost and a bit lonely sometimes,” he said. 

“I had that feeling as well. It took a lot of adapting but the network gives you support and at the same time it builds a certain kind of trust, so you know you have someone there to go through it with together. 

“The network also supports the Trust’s anti-bullying and anti-racism programmes to promote equality and equal opportunities.” 

The network’s success was reflected recently in Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS trust being awarded the NHS Pastoral Care Quality Award. 

Physiotherapist Melodie Gundayao

Last year, 172 international nurses and midwives were recruited at Blackpool with a target of recruiting 129 more by November. 

Nurses from overseas work across the Trust. 

Melodie Gundayao trained as a physiotherapist in the Philippines before moving to Blackpool in the 2003. She was initially a care home manager before moving back into physiotherapy and joining the Trust in 2021 as a community physiotherapist with Wyre Enhanced Primary Care team. 

“I love working with the NHS because I have the privilege to contribute to patients’ recovery and be part of their journey of rehabilitation, seeing people in their own homes,” she said. “I am always proud of NHS and the amazing people I work with.” 

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