News posted 8 March, 2024

International Women’s Day 2024: Celebrating women in healthcare

To mark this year’s theme of ‘inspiring inclusivity’, female colleagues working in a number of different roles at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust have shared their remarkable stories.


Narinder Saini currently works as Deputy Director of Nursing at Wythenshawe, Trafford, Withington and Altrincham Hospitals and is originally from Delhi, India. After four years working as an emergency care nurse, Narinder Saini moved to the UK in 2002.


Narinder said: “I didn’t know anyone else on the plane. Even though we were all from India, we were from different regions, and I didn’t understand their languages. I was excited, but really nervous to come away from all my family – it was definitely an adjustment.

“I had to quickly learn British culture and language, including the slang! 20 years ago we didn’t have mobile phones, so I would write letters and postcards to my family. I even remember my dad telling me that he thought I would live there for just six months – 22 years later and I’ve never moved back”.

From her own experiences, Narinder knows how important it is to have an inclusive work environment. She said: “Since I moved to UK, I have seen that the diverse population of Greater Manchester has grown so much, and I believe that healthcare staff should reflect the community that they are serving.

“It’s so important to have an inclusive environment as it broadens the perspective of any conversation and makes us more productive and efficient. In organisations as big as our hospital trust, you cannot work on your own and that’s the mindset that I have kept for so many years.

Narinder is now the Deputy Director of Nursing at four hospitals. She said: “As I came from another country on my own, I basically had to start all over again. Personally, I’m really proud me to be where I am.

“As recognition for my contribution to the NHS as an international recruit, I was lucky enough to attend Westminster Abbey for the NHS 75th anniversary. I even had the honour to meet with His Majesty King at Buckingham Place in November.

“I provide support to other international recruits who see me, and where I’ve come to in my career, and know that it is possible”.


It is not only medical staff that are integral to running a hospital. Selina Rose works as Front of House Manager for Sodexo who provide services for the NHS. She started her career as a chef after training in hospitality at college in Stockport.

Selina, aged 38, said: “I started working at the hospital serving food to patients on the ward, then worked my way to Salad and Sandwich supervisor role.

“Working in a kitchen is a very male dominated environment but I was never intimidated, and I just felt like one of the team. I’m one of those people where if I want something, I go for it and I don’t let anything phase me”.

Selina has firsthand experience of being a patient at MFT. 13 years ago, she became pregnant for the first time. But just 25 weeks into her pregnancy, her daughter, Shayontay was born early at Saint Mary’s Hospital. Weighing just one pound and seven ounces, she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit for three months.

Selina said: “At that time, no one I knew had a premature baby, so my first experience around one was my own first-born daughter.

“It was a very stressful time, and we were even sent home with oxygen machines. Luckily, I have a big family who are supportive, and the neonatal team were absolutely brilliant”.

Thankfully, Shayontay is now healthy. Selina then welcomed three more children, who were all born at Saint Mary’s Hospital.

“From my own experience, it can be daunting being a patient. But all the staff here are what makes the NHS so great, and it means so much to me and my family.

“I’m always keen to recognise the importance of women in the workforce. I have three daughters and I have always told them that they can do whatever they set their minds to as long as they work hard”.

Satwant Rait is a Dharmic Communities Chaplain at Manchester Royal Infirmary which covers Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. She is originally from India and moved to Yorkshire after marrying her husband, Harbhajan Singh.

Satwant, aged 81, said: “When I first moved here, I struggled getting employment because of the colour of my skin. Back then, it was all in the open. People told me that their staff don’t want to work with a person of colour.

“My qualifications weren’t recognised, and I had to regain them by going back to university. My husband offered for us to move back to India, where I worked as a librarian. But I was determined to face up to these challenges”.

She eventually gained her first job in Leeds as a library assistant and her second job in Kirklees on professional level and has raised two children. Sadly, back in 2001, tragedy struck their family. She said: “When me and my husband knew we were going to retire, our plan was to travel and relax.

“Unfortunately, he got cancer, and when he got diagnosed it was serious. It was a shock to me, but luckily within a year he was ok. For the next seven years, we did nothing but travel, including America, Australia, Canada, Thailand, Nepal”.

Sadly, the cancer eventually returned. She said: “He refused chemotherapy and was given two or three weeks to live. The nurse could see my face and how upset I was, so she asked me if I wanted a chaplain – but there was not one for multi-faith.

“It was that experience that made me know that I had to go into chaplaincy to fill this gap. I’ve had challenges throughout my life. But God has always sent a purpose for me. I wanted to move forward and trying to do everything that I want to do.”

Satwant began working as an Honorary Chaplain in Leeds and was able to gain a postgraduate diploma and master’s in this time. Despite coming to her career later in her life, she is very passionate about her job and is able to use her personal experience and knowledge to help others in the hospital.

On 3 November 2023, Satwant began working as a Chaplain at Manchester and commutes from Leeds to work once a week. She said: “As a chaplain, I do give advice, but the main part of my job is to listen. I’ve always been passionate about being an active member of the community and uplifting people around me.

“My parents didn’t want to send me to university education and thought that my main skills should involve maintaining the house. I fought this, and once I did, all the girls in my family didn’t just stay at home but they went onto study. Now they’re working back in India, here in Britain and Canada.

“I haven’t got anything without fighting or working harder and it is good for the future generations.”