Women Leaders in Independent Healthcare Network

The aim of the Women Leaders in independent Healthcare Network group is to achieve gender equality in both opportunity and access to the leadership of the independent healthcare sector.

In order to do that, the group will provide an opportunity for networking, to collaborate and share experiences; to create a platform to highlight and celebrate the achievements of female leaders – increasing visibility and inspiring others.

It’ll also be looking at how women leaders can give (and receive) professional development, supporting emerging leaders, and drive forward our wider understanding of the gender makeup of leadership in the independent healthcare sector, sharing and promoting best practice, research etc.

As part of International Women’s Day 2024, we asked members of the network to share their perspectives, experiences, and advice regarding being a leader within the healthcare industry.

“International Women’s Day is an important date in all our calendars. It is a time to stop and remember the incredible women who forged the path to greater gender equality whilst also acknowledging what more we all need to do to in ensuring everyone has the same chance of success and happiness”

“To that end I am delighted to be the chair of the first Independent Healthcare Women Leaders Network. The Network has been established in order to share learning and best practice across the independent healthcare sector and to inspire as many women as possible to reach their potential in our wonderful industry. The role has already meant that I have got to know some amazing women leaders already blazing a trail and who have so much to share.

With the support of IHPN’s Strategic Council and our allies, the network has much to do, but I’m sure it can and will achieve fantastic things for women in our industry. That is surely something that we can all celebrate on International Women’s Day.”

Seema Kennedy OBE
Chair, IHPN

“When I was at medical school there were no Asian Muslim women in senior leadership positions. The vast majority of the top jobs were taken by men, yet over 60% of my class were women.”

“There remains a long way to go, but I am delighted not just to see the beginnings of change with gender equality, inclusion and diversity, but also to be a small part of this in my executive role at InHealth and a member of the Women Leaders in Independent Healthcare Network with inspiring women from across the industry.

I am fortunate to have incredible champions – women and men, who support my journey, help me recognise my potential and celebrate the things that make me different. I have had to unlearn toxic narratives instilled over the years and this remains a work in progress.
“One of my favourite roles is that of Wellbeing Guardian, allowing the opportunity to practice wellness centred leadership and curate a safer space for our leaders of tomorrow. I am so very grateful for the amazing women across InHealth truly living our values as we support, empower and learn from each other. Here’s to continuing to break down barriers and lift each other higher”

Dr Reem Hasan
Chief Medical Officer, InHealth

“International Women day is a great opportunity to celebrate the progress we have made as a society so far but it also reaffirms our commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment where every individual, regardless of gender, feels valued, respected, and empowered to reach their full potential.”

“Reflecting on my journey, I’ve come to recognise three key ingredients that have played a pivotal role in reaching the position I hold today, and here are my tips for women looking to progress into leadership:

Build supportive networks on a professional and personal level. Surrounding yourself with individuals who uplift, inspire, and challenge you can greatly accelerate your progress and bolster your resilience in the face of adversity.

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone: Growth often lies beyond the confines of our comfort zones. Embracing discomfort and seizing opportunities to stretch ourselves allows us to uncover hidden talents, overcome self-imposed limitations, and ultimately, reach our full potential.

Be Authentic. Embracing your unique qualities, perspectives, and experiences not only fosters genuine connections but also empowers others to do the same. By staying true to yourself, you not only inspire trust but also pave the way for a more inclusive and diverse workplace culture.”

Liat Karni
Chief Executive Officer, Diagnostic Healthcare

“While there’s undoubtedly been progress, it’s still a sad reality that women are often underrepresented in healthcare leadership roles despite making up a substantial portion of the workforce.”

“I’ve been hugely fortunate to benefit from mentorship throughout my career and credit the support of these leaders– male and female – in getting where I am today.

For women looking to progress into leadership, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. Take accountability for your own professional development and seek out mentors who have experience navigating the career challenges you’re facing. And on your way up, don’t forget to send the ladder back down!”

Alex Ryan
Group Director of Service Development, Acacium group

“The focus for International Women’s Day this year is on inclusion, so isn’t it about time that we include ourselves too and help to lead on women’s health and the issues that we all have real personal experience of?”

“51% of the UK population is female, and 80% of the NHS’ workforce too. Surely, now in a time of patient choice and expanding issues that healthcare providers are facing, we should be educating staff on the real day-to-day things that help patients to just get on with their everyday lives.

At OneMedical Group 75% of our workforce is female, and 90% of our board is too. We should be leaning on that lived experience to improve patient care when it comes to women’s health.

The NHS’ Women’s Health Strategy is a 10-year strategy to shift the way we approach supporting women across all areas of the healthcare industry. It’s taken a while to gain traction but now we’re really starting to talk about it. Further developing our own work here at OneMedical Group, we’ve been listening to our patients and communities to find out exactly what they want and need.

Over half the people we’ve asked about accessing care for women’s health matters said that they usually have difficulty getting an appointment, or even someone to listen to them. And more often than not they’re being offered the same old thing which even though it might be the right medication for them, isn’t explained in a way that leaves women understanding that they’re getting the right care.

The care you receive definitely differs from person to person, and that can be down to whether you’ve seen someone who has had specific training in women’s health or just has a personal interest, to someone who is already swamped with so many other things to have an understanding about or a practitioner might even have an unconscious bias.

We’re putting blockers in the way of being able to give ourselves the care that we need, so on International Women’s Day, we should all be thinking about how we include ourselves.”

Rachel Beverley-StevensonCo-Founder and Executive Chair, OneMedical Group

“International Women’s Day serves as a platform to celebrate achievements and reflect on personal growth. As a nurse and Executive Director of Nursing & Quality, I’ve encountered moments of self-doubt, where I hesitated to fully embrace my role as a courageous leader. At times, I even downplayed my own abilities, labelling myself as “just a nurse” with a tinge of negativity.”

“I underestimated the profound impact nurses can have in executive positions and initially misinterpreted feedback about being “bossy and blunt” as detrimental. However, a colleague’s perspective shifted my perception. They highlighted the necessity of assertiveness and quick decision making in certain situations, reframing these qualities as strengths rather than flaws.

This mentoring experience catalysed my personal growth, prompting me to recognise and harness my capabilities. I’ve come to realise that many women, like myself, undervalue their potential due to societal biases. It’s crucial to challenge these biases and empower women to seize every opportunity available, particularly through mentorship and coaching.

I am a staunch advocate for women’s advancement and believe in fostering greater diversity in leadership roles. Diverse perspectives enrich decision making processes and pave the way for innovation. By championing inclusivity and supporting the aspirations of women, we can inspire the next generation of leaders to break barriers and redefine success.”

Gemma BondDirector of Nursing and Quality, PHL Group

“International Women’s Day is the perfect time to pause and reflect on the impact of the remarkable women in history who have achieved the success in their lives and careers that enable woman today to keep moving forward towards gender equality and empowerment.”

“The need to keep that forward momentum is of significance in my chosen field of healthcare. Why – well, the World Health Organization (WHO), women account for 70% of the global healthcare sector and yet at the executive level, women make up just 25% of healthcare leadership positions.

As a leader within my organisation, I know how much I lean on the support of other women, both colleagues and people from other companies. We had this in mind when we set up the Women Leaders in Independent Healthcare Network. This is a network that aims to collectively contribute to creating a supportive and empowering environment for women leaders of today and the future, fostering their professional growth and making a positive impact on the broader community

I’m already seeing the benefits from a network like this, with a group of such impressive women coming together with the single goal of supporting and empowering other women. Our network might only just have started but I’m confident that with the support of our chair, Seema Kennedy OBE, and the women leaders already round the table, that we will thrive.”

Dawn HodgkinsDirector of Regulation, IHPN