Elevating Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) within The Royal College of Ophthalmologists to better support our members and improve participation in our work is a major priority, and we are currently undertaking work to inform our future plans in this area.
Prior to the roll-out of the new curriculum for Ophthalmology Specialty Training (OST) in 2024. The college has been required by the General Medical Council (GMC) to evaluate differential attainment within ophthalmology. There has been increasing interest from College members to develop a more proactive and visible approach to EDI and the required work on differential attainment was seen as a useful first step to developing a more proactive strategy.
The recently published report makes recommendations for the RCOphth to take forward an action plan for change. Not only does the College aim to be as inclusive and diverse as possible, but it also wants to champion this within ophthalmology and in the ophthalmic workplace.
The report’s findings highlight areas of underrepresentation both across the ophthalmic workforce; College leadership roles and female and black doctors being recruited into ophthalmology.
GMC data quoted in the report show small differences in ARCP outcomes in ophthalmology, with white UK graduates are less likely to have unfavourable outcomes compared with UK BME Graduates and IMG. The percentage of white UK graduates passing their exams on the first attempt is also higher compared with UK BME Graduates and IMG with a significant drop in the percentage for those who are IMG BME/IMG White or EEA Graduates BME/EEA White.
The recommendations set out in the report are a call to action for the College to consider the direction for its future work to benefit both the College and the ophthalmic workforce. These include valuing diversity and visible representation in College leadership and governance, providing inclusive programmes of learning and assessment, supporting trainers and early learning needs analysis, and supporting UK trainees preparing for high-stakes summative assessments and recovery from failed attempts.
Dr Pankaj Agarwal, Member, RCOphth Differential Attainment Sub-Group, commented: ‘The authors hope that the membership of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists will respond positively to the report and support the key recommendations within it. The key insights are meant to open up discussions on trends such as gender disparity as well as underlining facts that there are consistently fewer black doctors applying for ophthalmology with underrepresentation at all levels. I want to thank the authors and everyone involved in making the report a reality and I hope that the recommendations will be taken forward’.
Mrs Melanie Hingorani, RCOphth Joint Honorary Secretary, commented; ‘The report will be a stepping stone to drive change and make a difference in the work of the College at all levels, to progress our aim to be as inclusive and diverse as possible within the College, and in the ophthalmic workplace’.