One of the founders of the Shuri Network has said the organisation has taken off in a way she “couldn’t ever have imagined”.

The network was officially launched at the 2019 edition of the Digital Health Summer School.

Co-founder Dr Shera Chok launched the network with Sarah Amani after realising there were very few BME women in the audience at events like Summer Schools. The network serves as a platform to help increase visibility of black and minority ethnic (BME) women in NHS technology roles.

One year on, Dr Chok returned to the Digital Health Virtual Summer School and said the network took off in a way which they organisation “couldn’t ever have imagined”.

“For the first time we are hearing the experiences of women of colour in digital health,” she added.

She also highlighted the fact that the network shines a light on those who have never usually had a voice.

“Those who used to be invisible, are now being heard,” she said.

Dr Chok was part of a panel discussion whichfeatured; co-founder Sarah Amani, senior programme manager at the Univeristy of Oxford; Sonia Patel, CIO at NHSX; Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and medical director of Primary Care at NHS England and NHS Improvement; Dr Ijeoma Azodo, honorary clinical tutor at the University of Edinburgh; Ronke Adejolu, digital clinical development and transformation lead at NHSX; Zainab Hussain, associate CCIO at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust; and Yinka Makinde, digital health tech and transformation leader at NHSX.

They were asked about how they thought the NHS will benefit the Shuri Network and what NHSE and NHSX need to be doing to address issues of inequality and discrimination.

In response, Dr Kanani said it was time to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” with respect to the BME agenda in digital health.

“This is our chance to speak up,” she added.

However Dr Kanani said “we need to do more”, adding that “this was only the beginning”.

“We need to listen to networks like the Shuri Network,” she said.

“So please keep pushing us and we will make sure your voice is amplified.”

The Shuri Network Virtual Summer School panel discussion will be published as our next Digital Health Unplugged podcast on 28 July. You can tune in on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Podcasts and other podcasting platforms.