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Final-year medical student, Hannah Likinyo, was invited to 10 Downing Street over the summer. She met with the then Prime Minister Theresa May’s Special Adviser on Social Justice and Young people and opportunity, Mr Nero Ughwujabo.

Below, Hannah, 23, explains how she came to be invited to Downing Street for a round table discussion, key points she took away from the discussion and what it was like visiting such an iconic venue.

“I am a female medical student from a BAME background and I was the President of St George’s Athena SWAN Student Network last year. I am passionate about issues surrounding health inequalities and possible solutions to address them and have discussed these at events at St George’s and Kings College London.

“As a result, I was selected (alongside 13 other medical students from different universities) to attend the round table discussion with Mr Ughwujabo at 10 Downing Street. The objective of the meeting was to discuss ways to increase the number of Black and minority ethnic (BAME) students attending UK medical schools in order to increase the number of BAME Doctors so that they can help address health inequalities in the UK.”

Mentor younger BAME Pupils

“I believe access to information about the medical school application process from a young age would help, as would support with obtaining work experience with doctors. For example, I did not have any contacts within the medical profession for work experience and spent hours emailing doctors on clinician directory lists in the hope that someone would respond. This was time that could have been put to better use studying or doing activities to help flesh out my personal statement.

“As a group, we discussed the possible causes of the low number of BAME students in medical schools across the UK and Mr Ughwujabo offered advice and solutions to help address these. He encouraged us to support young BAME pupils applying to medical schools by mentoring them. He said we should each support five BAME pupils to get into medical school.”

Strive for top positions

“Mr Ughwujabo discussed many issues people from BAME backgrounds face both in medicine and outside of the medical field. He spoke about the Race Disparity Audit, (updated on 11th October 2018), which has shown a number of significant disparities between and within ethnic groups.

“He encouraged us to strive for the top positions within the NHS, such as Medical Directors, so that we would be able to influence policies from the top and affect change that way. He also encouraged us to undergo personal development by attending leadership and public speaking courses and to volunteer for organisations which target health conditions that disproportionately affect ethnic minorities such as prostate cancer, diabetes and sickle cell anaemia.”

The door is real

“For some reason I always thought that the front door of 10 Downing Street wasn’t real - it is for anyone who was wondering! It was all a little strange. I guess the main reason it felt strange was because I expected a lot more grandeur to the visit, but it wasn’t like that at all - which is definitely a good thing. It made me feel a lot more comfortable being there.

“It was an amazing day and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be involved in the discussion. I’ve been inspired to enrol on a mentorship programme to help pupils in sixth form get into medicine and felt encouraged with the work I, and the Athena SWAN committee, have been doing at St George’s.”