The Royal College of Ophthalmologists has been working with a specialist agency called Canham Hall Associates, and I am a member of a small steering group, including College Officers and staff. Canham Hall is led jointly by Alison Robinson Canham and Andrew Hall, a previous CEO of the Royal College of Radiologists. Both understand some of the unique challenges faced by medical royal colleges. As the smallest medical royal college, with only 35 staff and around 4,000 members, these challenges can seem disproportionately bigger. There is a core amount of business as usual work that must be delivered no matter what the size of any College – exams, standards, training, guidance, continued professional development and policy influence working with government and NHS bodies. Much of the College work is undertaken by staff and clinicians in key roles, such as Chairs and members of committees working collaboratively.
The clinicians are doing this work in a voluntary capacity (the College would be bankrupt within a few months if clinicians were paid for their time) nor are they formally employed by the College. Trusts are increasingly reluctant to lose clinical time to College work. All this creates real pressure on the working relationships and ability to deliver on our big ambitions. So, it’s absolutely crucial that staff and clinicians understand each others’ experiences and talents, and can work together within a well-structured but supportive framework.
The culture initiative has explored these tensions and generated a set of values to bind us together, underpinned by ways of working and behaviours which we feel will really help to generate an even more cohesive and collaborative environment at the College and with members.
These values we aspire to are; Inclusive, Innovation, Improvement and Integrity, all with a set of behaviours that demonstrate what these mean in our day to day activities and working relationships.
We are now working on meaningfully embedding these values in everything that we do. An example of this is that we are looking at elevating Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within the College to better support all our members and improve participation in our work. I and many College colleagues are aware of an increasing desire by members to see the College do a lot more in this area. We will be more proactive, we will establish more clarity of data with commentary about trends and impact within ophthalmology and how the College is doing now and the progress we make over time.
The recent GMC workforce report shows the really significant ongoing increase in the diversity of the workforce and the central role of International medical graduates. If we are to overcome our capacity challenges, it will be crucial to ensure that the College and all members support and include all our ophthalmic workforce and challenge the continuing unfair barriers that can exist for some in optimising their career potential.
We have just published a report on differential attainment: Differential Attainment Report 2022 UPDATED MAY 2023, which shows that quite a high proportion of members do not declare information such as ethnicity. We will be sharing a report on the reverse mentoring scheme we carried out in 2021, so look out for this in the next month or so. These reports will make recommendations for the RCOphth to take forward in an action plan for change. Not only do we aim to be as inclusive and diverse as possible within the College but we really want to champion this within ophthalmology and in the ophthalmic workplace.
It is important that in order for the College to understand where we are, monitor trends and progress, and understand how best we can support you, it is vital that members update their profile in My RCOphth, the members area. To update your information will only take a couple of minutes, but it will make a big difference to the EDI work we hope to do.
We want to hear from members, so if you have any feedback, have an interest in EDI or wish to share experiences, please contact [email protected]
RCOphth Joint Honorary Secretary