First Filipino executive chief nurse appointed in NHS

A Filipino nurse has made history as the first from his country to be appointed as an executive nurse director in the NHS.

Oliver Soriano has been announced as the new chief nurse and quality officer at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust.

“There is a space for an [internationally educated nurse] on the table and this showed us that this can happen in our lifetime”

Dennis Singson

Mr Soriano relocated from the Philippines to London in 1998 and joined the Nursing and Midwifery Council register the following year.

A registered adult and mental health nurse, Mr Soriano has held a number of senor roles in the NHS including advanced clinical practitioner, matron, head of nursing and associate director of nursing.

He is also currently the president of Philippine Nurses Association UK (PNAUK).

Before this latest appointment, he held a different nursing leadership position at Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Of his new appointment, Mr Soriano said: “It is such an honour to have been chosen to lead our amazing nurses and allied health professionals.

“I am very much looking forward to my new role and to joining the board.”

His appointment to the executive role has been welcomed by the Filipino nursing community and also by the national chief nursing officer (CNO) for England, Dame Ruth May.

From right, Dennis Singson and Oliver Soriano meeting Queen Camilla

Dennis Singson, vice president of PNAUK, told Nursing Times: “The whole Filipino community of nurses, allied health professionals and other health care workers in the UK is rejoicing at this marvellous feat.

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“Nurses from the Philippines have been coming to the UK to work since the 70s although massive recruitment drive intensified in the late 90s and continued up to present time.

“Despite the number of nurses from the Philippines – now estimated to be more than 40,000 working in the NHS alone – this is the first time a nurse from the Philippines is appointed as a chief nurse and will surely inspire all of us to achieve more and set higher goals and aspirations.

“There is a space for an [internationally educated nurse] on the table and this showed us that this can happen in our lifetime.”

He noted how Mr Soriano had assumed the president role at PNAUK during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and had helped support not only health workers from the Philippines but other internationally educated nurses in the UK too.

“We have known him as someone who exemplifies the best qualities of nurses from the Philippines – competent, compassionate, hardworking, humble, approachable and has the tenacity to make things happen,” added Mr Singson.

“He is a great role model, a leader who works with integrity and commitment to race equality”

Jeni Caguioa

Meanwhile, England CNO Dame Ruth said: “I wish to congratulate Oliver, who I have had the pleasure of meeting as part of the International Nursing and Midwifery Association (INMA) diaspora network.

“I am sure Oliver will bring a wealth of experience to [Lancashire and South Cumbria].

“I know he has a deep passion and respect for the profession worldwide and his patient facing values will be a credit to those who need his care.”

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Mr Soriano has also supported the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) with its work with internationally educated nurses (IENs), and the charity joined others in welcoming his appointment.

Jeni Caguioa, head of global at FNF, told Nursing Times: “We are very pleased, as an FNF community and as a Filipino IEN community, to hear of the appointment of Oliver Soriano as an executive CNO for Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, a current member of the FNF Academy.

“I got connected with Ollie at the start of the pandemic as he chairs the Philippine Nurses Association UK and ever since, we have worked together to raise the profile of IENs and their needs.

“He has also mentored several INMA leads and is a great role model, a leader who works with integrity and commitment to race equality.”

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