Medical director Mr Raymond Anakwe on what inspired him to join the NHS

Medical director, Mr Raymond Anakwe was inspired to join the NHS by his father, whose own journey into medicine began in Nigeria before he moved to Russia and then the UK. Raymond, who has recently become co-sponsor for the Trust's multidisciplinary race equality network for staff, tells us more about his career journey.

I have been a consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon at the Trust since 2013 when I joined as an army surgeon. I am a hand, wrist and elbow surgery specialist and have also worked for many years as a trauma surgeon.

This has given me the opportunity to work with teams across the Trust in a number of roles and in 2021 I was appointed joint medical director, which is a huge honour and privilege.

I see patients and operate at both St Mary’s and Charing Cross hospitals. The work of the medical director’s office covers all of our sites and services so I enjoy getting out and meeting our teams.

Both of my parents worked for the NHS. They were incredibly proud to do so. We always lived near the hospitals where they worked and the hospitals and the NHS played a huge part in our lives and what we saw and knew as children growing up.

Dad was an obstetrician and gynaecologist and came from a really small town in Nigeria where there was no real expectation that he would go to school let alone university. He somehow got a scholarship to go to university in Russia. He studied the Russian language first and then did a medical degree before moving to London in the 70s where he retook all of his exams in English and started what would be a 40-year career in the NHS. Mum was a nurse and midwife who worked for many years in the NHS and went back to university as an adult. Nurses didn’t often do degrees when she trained.

Both of my parents inspired and motivated me to value the NHS, to appreciate that hard work and determination can help you achieve almost anything and they both showed me how a career in the NHS was incredibly rewarding for them and how they made a real difference for their patients. They have both always inspired me in many ways, I feel I have had things very easy compared to how they were brought up and when they trained.

I have always been incredibly well supported by family, friends and mentors. People have looked out for me and supported me to grow, develop and to take advantage of opportunities. From a young age I was taught that if I work hard, I can achieve anything and I am really aware that not everyone has that support.

I think it is really important to take people with you, to support others and share your experience. My time in the NHS and the army has made me a really strong believer in teams working together. I think training is really important and training others is still a big part of my day-to-day work. Possibly, more important or at least equally important is mentorship. We all have the ability to encourage the best in others and actually, taking some time.

I have definitely seen change since I arrived at Imperial. We have always been aware of the need for respect, equity, equality of opportunity, for all of our diverse staff and patients. There does seem to be a new focus on making this routine and applying it to everything that we do. It probably doesn’t always feel like that but there is a definite sense that we as an organisation and our leaders really want to make sure that every staff member feels valued, appreciated and respected and that when we make a decision, we really make an effort to think about how it affects everyone.

I would say there are huge opportunities at the Trust to grow and develop as an individual and to make an important contribution to the team and for patients. Put yourself forward. We are all learning and trying to do better but ask for help if you are unsure what to do next or if you need help putting your ideas into practice.