Tase Oputu, pharmacist and co-site lead of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff network at Newham Hospital and a Barts Health inspiring woman tells us more about what drives her and the change she’d like to see in the world.
Tell us how you got to the position you are in today
A really key thing for me is my roots. I was born and raised in Brixton by Nigerian parents who had both immigrated to the UK in search of a better life. I think my first sense of wanting to become a healthcare professional stemmed from my dad who was a nurse. But ultimately it was my mum (who raised me and my four siblings on her own) who instilled me with a strong work ethic and will to work hard at being successful at whatever I do. Working in the 1970s my mum experienced a lot of racism and her belief was that educating yourself and having a profession is something no one can ever take away from you. So that was another thing that really drove me.
Please share some of the achievements you are most proud of
Top of my list has to be being a mum. My daughter is going to be 10 this year and she’s taught me so much about unconditional love and being kind and patient. When I first became a new mum I was studying for my MSc and working and doing those things all at once really made me appreciate my worth and strength as a woman. Another achievement I’m proud of has to be the volunteering work I did in Tanzania to support severely deprived communities. Seeing how little people and how happy they were in spite of this spurred me to make sure that whatever I did I continued to make a positive difference to people’s lives and really renewed my love of the NHS. Last year I also helped to lead the first ever BME event at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, this topic hasn’t had much airspace in the Society before and the event was very successful so I’m so pleased to have been a part of it!
What motivates you to make a difference to those around you, and a fairer world for all?
People. I want everyone and anyone to have the same opportunities, so for example in healthcare I want everyone to have access to high quality and safe healthcare. Even within my team I want every single person to feel that they are a valued team member and that they can achieve anything they want to.
What positive changes would you like to see in the world for both men and women over the next decade?
I’d like us all to not only acknowledge and accept our differences but to be brave enough to identify the areas where there is a lack of acceptance and work together to tackle these issues. At the moment we do have spikes of awareness but we need to do more to embed structures and opportunities for everyone, whether it’s people from BME backgrounds, the LGBT community or men and women. I think in the next couple of years we need to start seeing the data. So in healthcare we’re progressing this with the Workforce Race Equality Standard, but we need this across all areas like Education and the Justice System so that institutions can be held to account for what they’re doing to promote equal opportunities and diversity. Ultimately, by progressing these changes I’d like to think that in a decade’s time my daughter won’t have to face problems of racism, gender inequality or homophobia.