Francis Fernando

Founding Director of the Filipino Nurses Association UK

Francis Fernando is a compassionate and inclusive leader with more than 30 years of experience as a nurse leader, more than 23 years in the UK and mostly in the NHS. He has held senior posts like Orthopaedic Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Clinical Matron, Matron, Nurse Consultant and Head of Nursing. He became one of the first Filipino Nurse Consultants in the UK in 2014 and was recognised by the Philippine Embassy in London. Francis was awarded the 2012 Clinical Leaders Network Quality Award for Striving for Excellence in Hip Fracture Care, becoming the first and only Filipino nurse winner so far. Again, he was recognised by the Philippine Embassy for this award.He also became the first Filipino nurse to be awarded a Travel Scholarship by the Florence Nightingale Foundation in 2013. Francis also became one of the first three Filipino nurses to be awarded the very prestigious Florence Nightingale Foundation Emerging Leadership Scholarship in 2021. Francis has been named as one of the 50 Most Influential BAME Leaders in the Near Misses List by HSJ in 2020 and is one of the 25 finalists worldwide as Unsung Hero in 2020. Again he has the distinction of being the first and only Filipino to be included in this very elite list of leaders. He has also been nominated for the Queen’s Honours List for his remarkable work during the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2021. Francis is also the first Filipino nurse national member of the Chief Nursing Officer’s BAME Strategic Advisory Group since 2012. He is the founder of the Heads of Nursing, Midwifery and AHP National Network and co-funded the Filipino Senior Nurses Alliance UK in 2021. This is a group of the most senior Filipino nurses in the NHS, those at Band 8b and above. Currently there are 34 members. Francis is the Founding Director of the Filipino Nurses Association UK (FNA-UK) which won three awards at the National BAME Health and Care Awards this year. FNA-UK has won the Community Initiative of the Year Awards beating other highly commended nominees.

Francis also won the 2021 National BAME Health and Care Awards for Inclusive and Compassionate Leader, the first and only Filipino nurse winner. FNA UK has also received some financial grants from the Florence Nightingale Foundation and from the NHS England and Improvement to support its advocacy programmes for Filipino nurses in the UK. FNA-UK is registered with the Companies House as a Community Interest Company and is awaiting to be awarded a Charitable Status by the Charities Commission. FNA-UK's website is Francis is also a national member and only Filipino member of the Chief People Officer’s Covid-19 BAME Clinical Advisory Group. He is also a member of many more local, regional and national networks and associations like the Jabali Network, a group of male Senior BAME Leaders in the NHS (Band 8c and above), the London Workforce Race Strategy-Nursing and Midwifery Steering Group, and NHS England and Improvement Next Generation Nurse Ambassador. Francis has been named as one of the Health Service Journal’s Top 50 Most Influential BAME Leaders in Health in England 2021 and 2022. The first and only Filipino leader to be named in this very prestigious list. This is what the judges and HSJ said about Francis: “Filipino nurses are a vital part of the NHS workforce – with 35,000 of them on the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register – and have been for two decades.

They also suffered a high death toll during the pandemic, with a disproportionate number of these nurses among the earliest casualties.” “No one has done more to draw attention to that than Mr. Fernando, the founding Director of the Filipino Nurses Association UK, which offers support and advocacy for this important group. He has also co-ordinated mentoring and coaching for around 150 Filipino nurses to help them move forward in their careers and collated details of nurses who have advanced through the Agenda for Change grades. He additionally takes up cases of individual nurses who are experiencing difficulties in their careers.” “Mr. Fernando has worked as a Nurse Consultant and a Matron and is a Florence Nightingale Foundation Leadership scholar. He is currently a Head of Nursing at Central London Community Healthcare Trust”. Francis has been promoted to the post of an Associate Director of Nursing and Quality, Band 8c with the North East London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. This makes Francis as one of the highest ranking Filipino nurse in the NHS/UK out of more than 48k. What has Francis is determined, focused, motivated and resilient. I also found that having good networks will help him find opportunities to progress in his career. Mentoring has also helped Francis develop personally and professionally. There were many challenges and setbacks in my career but he learned from all of them.

It took Francis many attempts to be successful in landing his first Associate Director of Nursing (Band 8c post). He even solicited support from CNO for England Ruth May and Deputy CNO Professor Mark Radford. There are many leaders who supported Francis and continue to support him but there are also many who don't. ADVOCACIES: 1) Raised £17k for Filipino nurses, healthcare workers and their families who were affected by Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic in 2020 in collaboration with the Balik-Bayani Foundation and the RCN Foundation. Financial grants awarded to the families of those who died whilst working in the NHS and care sectors and for the Filipino nurses in the care and private sectors who were affected by the pandemic and were not paid by their employers whilst off sick. 2) Francis wrote to the UK Parliament's Women and Equality Committee, to the CNO for England Ruth May and to the WRES National Director Yvonne Coghill in April 2020 regarding my communities' concerns of the high and disproportionate numbers of Filipino nurses, health and care workers dying from Covid-19. Some of the requests included the following: a) Risk Assessments for all my colleagues and those at high risks of contracting Covid-19 and dying from it b) Dedicated help-line for my colleagues and their families c) Support to avail of the death benefits for the families of my colleagues d) Adequate PPE for front-line staff e)Support in the repatriation of the remains of my colleagues to the Philippines. Some of these requests were granted by the NHS/DOH but the UK Parliament has until now not responded to my letter. Ruth and Yvonne were and until are very supportive and I together with my other colleagues had a meeting with them a few times to discuss how they can best help us. 3) Francis used his social media accounts, especially Twitter to highlight my communities' concerns due to high and disproportionate numbers of deaths due to Covid-19.

I also took the opportunity to support in raising funds through Go-Fund me for the families of my colleagues again using my Twitter account. 4) Francis was interviewed by the following media due to the high death rates of Filipinos due to Covid 19 in the UK: BBC 2 Newsnight, Channel 4 news, Russian Television Network London, Channel 4's Dispatches and more recently ITV News. I have used these opportunities to highlight awareness of my colleagues' high death rates from Covid-19. 5) Francis founded the Filipino Nurses Association UK in July 2020 in the midst of the pandemic as there was no national association of Filipino nurses during that time. Despite being the largest international nurses in the NHS and in the UK. Our website is Officers elected, and had oath taking with the Philippine Ambassador to the UK officiating, held our national launch with CNO for England as guest speaker, held their first year anniversary celebrations last 2021 in Oxford and conducted their first outreach programmes for our Filipino nurse colleagues from 2 NHS Trusts. 6) FNA UK made history by being awarded the 2021 National BAME Health and Care Awards' Community Initiative of the Year, becoming the first international nurses association to win this prestigious award. Some of their officers and members also won different awards which include two British Empire Medals, BAME Nurse Leader of the Year and many more. May Parsons who is one of our officers has made history by administering the first Covid-19 vaccine in the world. 7) Francis also supported some of the other international nurse associations in the UK to establish themselves. These include the British Indian Nurses Association UK, the Malawian Nurses Association UK and the Spanish Nurses Association UK. 8) He also co-established the Filipino Senior Nurses Alliance UK last year. I led a scoping exercise on the numbers of senior Filipino nurses (Band 8b and above) working in the NHS. Initially, there were only 22 of us.

The numbers have increased now to 34 due to promotions and discovery of other senior Filipino nurses in the NHS through my networks. This is still very minute compared to the total number of Filipino nurses in the NHS and in the UK. This group is engaging with many healthcare leaders to address the lack of senior Filipino nurse representation in the NHS. They already met with the National Leadership Academy a few times, the International Nurses' team, the CNO Team, the WRES Team and the Florence Nightingale Foundation. The group meets twice a month and celebrated some promotions quite recently. 9) Francis is personally supporting around 20 Filipino nurses who are members of FNA-UK who had or are facing work-related issues. They are not supported by their trade unions as when their issues arose, they were not members yet. Some of them have been referred to the NMC and some to the police. He is being supported by some of the FNA-UK officers, by the Philippine Embassy in London through the Labour Attache' and by the group United Black Nurses UK who have access to legal services.

There were successes and there were some failures too. 10) Francis led a national initiative of Mentoring and Coaching for more than 150 of my Filipino nurse colleagues in the NHS. There was a lot of enthusiasm, interest and genuine offer of support from national, regional and local health, care,private, charity, academia and system leaders who offerre to mentor and coach my colleagues all for free. At present, he is personally mentoring 2 Filipino nurses. One was promoted to a Band 7 in less than 4 years here in the UK. Out of these more than 150 colleagues, around 30 were promoted which includes a Very Senior Manager (VSM), Band 9 Deputy Chief Nurse, Band 8D Director of Nursing and Band 8C Associate Director of Nursing. Francis had collaborated with the senior nurse researcher from the Workforce Racial Equality Standards Team to take this great programme nationally. 10) I established the Head of Nursing and Midwifery Network in April last year. We have more than 400 members nationally. They are recognised by the CNO and her team. We also held our first national conference last year attended by the Deputy CNO Hilary Garratt. There were some promotions from the members of our group recently and we continue to hold regular national conferences virtually. 11) By collaborating with the following associations and groups, we can achieve change faster for the benefits of all our members, the NHS and the UK society: a) Different national international nursing and midwifery associations b) Jabali Men's Network (Senior Male BAME Leaders in the NHS-Band 8c and above). c) Chief People Officer's BAME Covid-19 Clinical Advisory Group d) CNO/CmidO BAME Strategic and Advisory Group e) London Workforce Race Strategy- Nursing and Midwifery Steering Group f) BAME Diaspora Nursing and Midwifery Consortium g) Federation of Ethnic Minority Organisations Networking and Alliance Group (FEHMO)-with more than 60 associations in the UK.

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