For Black History Month 2021, we want to give black people in healthcare a platform to share individual stories on their background, racial disparities in healthcare, and most importantly, why they are ‘Proud to Be’. Keep reading to see our very own Wiz Magunda’s inspiring story in his own words all about his various careers in heathcare, achievements, and experiences with racism.
“Hello, I’m Wiz Magunda and I am the Hospital Director in Stafford, working for The Huntercombe Group. My interests are politics, reading, music and football. For my background, I grew up in Rhodesia now Zimbabwe where I went to school including boarding school up to my O Levels. I then got a scholarship with the British Council to come over to the UK to study for my A Levels and then university. I lost my scholarship when Zimbabwe gained independence. I arrived in the UK in 1977 at the height of the National Front and happened to live a couple of miles from where the leader of the National Front lived. This meant that from arrival, I faced racism daily, being called a ‘monkey’ on the street, or people shouting abuse such as ‘wogs go back home’, etc. It was a very traumatic time, but I could not go back home as there was the war of independence taking place!
I never had any initial ambitions to work in healthcare, however, to support myself I had to find some training which paid me and the first thing I found was Psychiatric Nurse Training qualifying in 1982. The rest is history! I started my career in Warwickshire initially as a support worker before undertaking my nurses training. After qualifying I found that I really enjoyed caring for others, and these burning ambitions resulted in a 40-year career! After qualifying as nurse, I then completed my first degree, I was also interested in management, so I completed my Post Graduate Diploma in Management Studies which led to further study to achieve my MBA.
Since then, I have worked mainly in forensic services and initially medium secure services, prison health, then my job before leaving the NHS was a Service Director at Broadmoor Hospital, a high secure service where I worked for 6 years. In total I worked for the NHS for 33 years before joining THG. Prison health was very interesting as I was one of the first NHS Managers to be seconded to prison health in 2001, and I was responsible for the mental health needs of all the prisoners in Winson Green Prison in Birmingham. I joined THG initially after being Hospital Director at Roehampton, and I moved to take over at Stafford in 2017. I was also proud to be the chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Group for THG.
Racism has always been a factor throughout my career. It was always the case that I felt that I had to perform that much harder than my colleagues. I was ridiculed because of my accent, and had racist comments from colleagues and patients. Many times, it was considered acceptable for people to use derogatory terms to my face or to describe me. I have always felt that I could have progressed much higher than I did. Growing up there were no symbols of black achievement, all the history I was taught was about how black people were inferior and had not contributed much. Black History month is a reminder that people from diverse backgrounds have contributed so much to the development of our civilisation which has not been celebrated in the past. It has made me very proud of my heritage. I am very proud to be a man of an African heritage despite all the difficulties I have encountered. I am who I am and very proud!”