UNISON officer and activist recognised by health journal

Helga Pile and May Parsons were placed in the top 10 most influential Black people in English health by the Health Service Journal

Each year the HSJ (formerly the Health Service Journal) names the 50 most influential Black people in health policy in England over the upcoming 12 months.

The list is published to coincide with Black History Month which this year is themed Saluting Our Sisters. This year, the HSJ has recognised two UNISON women in the top10 – Helga Pile, UNISON’s deputy head of health, and May Parsons, a prominent health activist in the union.

Helga Pile

Helga Pile

Helga was recognised partly for her key role in this year’s NHS pay dispute, noting she was often the public face of UNISON on TV and radio throughout the strikes (pictured at the top).

Her efforts to combat race discrimination were also highlighted, particularly with UNISON’s Race for Equality campaign, and her work calling for the NHS to step up work on challenging racism in the workplace.

Speaking about Helga, UNISON’s head of health Sara Gorton said: “This is a much-deserved acknowledgment of Helga’s contribution, skills and talent.

“It is also testament to the importance and quality of the work UNISON delivers in health workplaces across the NHS through our branches and regions.

“Congratulations Helga, and thank you for your hard work for the union.”

May Parsons

May Parsons stood in front of 'University Hospital'

May works as associate chief nurse director for governance, risk and compliance at Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust. She was recognised for a number of reasons, particularly her role in the delivery of the first COVID vaccination outside of clinical trials almost three years ago.

However, she has since represented the NHS on a national stage, receiving the George Cross from Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of the service, together with chief executive of NHS England Amanda Pritchard, before also taking part in the late Queen’s funeral procession.

The recognition also highlighted her work as regional director for the Filipino Nurses Association.

Speaking of May, Stuart Tuckwood, UNISON’s national officer for nursing, said: “May is an inspirational figure to many in the UK and across the world. She’s also a committed and intelligent advocate, both for her nursing colleagues in UNISON and the nurses of the future; here and in the Philippines.

“May is part of the overseas nurse’s network in UNISON which helps us to best support and campaign for the many nurses from other countries who are living and working in the UK. Congratulations to her on her well-deserved recognition.”

UNISON had previously highlighted May’s exceptional work, including her role in the delivery of the first COVID vaccination in a feature.

‘I’m very happy to be here. I really feel I have accomplished a dream’