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RCS England Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan

RCS England diversity action plan 2021

This Action Plan sets out an update on our response to the Kennedy Review published earlier in 2021. The review represented our new approach to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). It was commissioned in summer 2020, when the election of four white men to senior leadership positions made us question whether our existing approaches to DEI issues were sufficient to deliver the progress that our members, the profession, and ultimately patients, deserve.

In addition to embracing the recommendations of the Kennedy Review, we will be developing an LGBTQ+ strategy and taking further action to achieve long-term systemic change. For this reason, in delivering against the Action Plan, we are focusing not just on what we do, but how we do it. We will challenge ourselves to bring new voices into our planning and project activity. We want to stretch our thinking and ask fundamental questions about how we, as a College, can use our powers to greatest effect. 


Kennedy 16-point Action Plan

Recommendation 1: Commit to the Vision and put diversity at the heart of the College strategy

Outcome: Delivery of this Action Plan.

Next steps: See milestones detailed below and look out for invitations to webinars later in the year to get more closely involved with our DEI work.


Recommendation 2: Commit to the Reform Target

Outcome: For Council to be a diverse group of surgical professionals, representative of and accountable to the College’s membership.

Next steps: Member survey in October 2021 to garner opinion – what your priorities are, where you most want to see change, and how.


Recommendation 3: Reform elections for Presidency

Outcome: For Council to be a diverse group of surgical professionals, representative of and accountable to the College’s membership.

Next steps: In 2022, publication of findings and options for change paper – looking at other benchmark organisations, good practice and member insights.


Recommendation 4: Reform election for Vice Presidential roles

Outcome: For Council to be a diverse group of surgical professionals, representative of and accountable to the College’s membership.

Next steps: In 2022, publication of findings and options for change paper – looking at other benchmark organisations, good practice and member insights.


Recommendation 5: Reform Council

Outcome: For Council to be a diverse group of surgical professionals, representative of and accountable to the College’s membership.

Next steps: In 2022, publication of findings and options for change paper – looking at other benchmark organisations, good practice and member insights.


Recommendation 6: Reform election process, appointments, Committees and conduct

Outcome: For Council to be a diverse group of surgical professionals, representative of and accountable to the College’s membership.

Next steps: In 2022, publication of findings and options for change paper – looking at other benchmark organisations, good practice and member insights.


Recommendation 7: Develop a clear Specialty or Associate Specialist (SAS) strategy

Outcome: For SAS surgeons to be respected and acknowledged for the contribution that they can, and do, make to the surgical team, the College and the profession AND to see that their opportunities to contribute are enhanced further.

Next steps: Our first step in this substantial piece of work is to ‘get our own house in order’ in relation to the desired outcome. This means until the end of 2021 we will be conducting an audit of our language and materials and of College rules and regulations, to ensure that these are aligned to the outcome. So look out for clear language and messaging of the importance of SAS surgeons and for more opportunities to participate in the College’s ecosystem.


Recommendation 8: Deliver a flagship project – Parents in Surgery

Outcome: For surgeons and dentists with parental responsibilities to have the same access to and opportunities for training and development as those who are not parents.

Next steps: 1. Immediate review of College policies and practices to ensure that they are suitable for working parents. 2. Publication of research and recommendations in June 2022 on barriers to parent participation in surgery, with recommendations for any further change in College policy and practice, along with collaborations and advocacy we should undertake to effect changes in the policies and behaviour of other organisations (e.g. NHS Trusts, HEE).


Recommendation 9: Deliver a study on differential attainment in surgical exams

Outcome: To have achieved a comprehensive understanding of the factors contributing to differential attainment in surgical exams, to inform focused projects to address these factors by the end of 2026.

Next steps: Publication of a report into differential attainment and prioritised action plan to address in June 2022.


Recommendation 10: Launch two annual research fellowships into surgery and DEI

Outcome: To have catalysed high quality research that creates new knowledge and improved understanding of surgery and DEI – and through this work contribute to the development of this field of research and change in practice.

Next steps: The launch of two research fellowships in 2022.


Recommendation 11: Support diverse grassroots medical organisations with seed funding

Outcome: For a wider diversity of talent to become aware of opportunities to participate in the College ecosystem.

Next steps: Publication of a report in December 2021 on findings from developing relationships and commitments to support to grassroots organisations.


Recommendation 12: Build on College strengths – Emerging Leaders and Women in Surgery (WinS)

Outcome: For individuals from diverse backgrounds and with diverse opinions and beliefs to gain leadership roles within the profession, both inside and outside of the College governance structures; for these individuals to be able to engage, be themselves, feel that they belong and have equal status to all their colleagues. For women to have parity of esteem, opportunity and success within the ecosystem of the College and beyond.

Next steps: A new, refreshed Emerging Leaders programme for 2022. A full report outlining a data model that predicts the diversity of the pipeline into consultant posts along with a plan of interventions to strengthen the pipeline.


Recommendation 13: Mentorship

Outcome: For the College to support the development of mentoring as a core surgical skill and as a ‘human’ element of the membership package.

Next steps: Mentoring programme pilot launch in December 2022


Recommendation 14: Data collection, monitoring and career tracking

Outcome: For the College to make better informed decisions in making progress against all its DEI (and broader strategic) aims.

Next steps: To begin with, this is internal work focused on building up business intelligence and data analytics capability within the College staff body. We will be asking, in 2022, for updates to membership records and we are grateful for all responses, particularly on race, ethnic origin and socioeconomic background. We know that many surgeons feel that these are private and sensitive data, but where the data are missing it is more difficult to create progress and engender accountability.


Recommendation 15: Training

Outcome: For all staff and council members to be confident in how to conduct anti-discrimination recruitment and interviewing.

Next steps: A comprehensive programme of training has commenced with all staff and council members attending by January 2022.


Recommendation 16: New building

Outcome: For the College building to be an inclusive, stimulating and welcoming place, accessible to all visitors on-site and online.

Next steps: Take a look at our launch video and do provide feedback via the project transform team if you have visited the building. We would love to know what you think.


Timeline

We will be reporting on our progress every six months, holding true to the long-term outcomes we are working towards, reporting on the latest developments and publishing our work accordingly. As part of this, we will monitor progress to demonstrate improvements in attitudes of fellows and members.

Action plan timeline

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programme core team

Corriene Bailey Bearfield
Corriene Bailey-Bearfield, Diversity and Inclusion Programme Manager
‘The publication of this new action plan marks a significant moment in The Royal College of Surgeons of England’s approach to diversity, equity and inclusion. I am proud to be leading the implementation of this work in collaboration with the surgical community and colleagues across the College. Together, we will drive the change that is needed to make the surgical profession, as well as our organisation, reflective of the world today.’
Corriene Bailey-Bearfield, Diversity and Inclusion Programme Manager

About Corriene

Corriene has a wealth of experience of leading organisational change within the EDI space, mentoring senior leaders and of developing successful culture change programmes. Most notably “Common Ground” at Diabetes UK. Corriene is passionate about creating space for open and honest dialogue and ensuring diverse voices are heard and supported.  Corriene joined the College in June 2021 and is responsible for leading and supporting the DEI work across the College.    

Farah Bhatti
Professor Farah Bhatti, Council member
‘I am pleased that The Royal College of Surgeons of England is taking the implementation of the recommendations of the Kennedy Review seriously and I look forward to long term, sustained change both at the College and within the surgical profession.’
Professor Farah Bhatti, Council member

About Farah

Professor Farah Bhatti OBE is a Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at Morriston Hospital (appointed in 2007).  She is the Equality and Diversity Lead for the Graduate Entry Medicine programme at Swansea University Medical School (awarded an Honorary Chair in 2015). She was Chair of the Women in Surgery Forum at The Royal College of Surgeons of England (2016–21). She is an elected Council Member of The Royal College of Surgeons of England (2018).

Professor Bhatti read Medicine at Somerville College, Oxford and completed her clinical training at Jesus College and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. She has trained at a number of prestigious units including The Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals. She spent two years in full time research into transplantation and gained an MD from Cambridge University.

Lucy Davies
Lucy Davies, Executive Director of Membership, Marketing and Communications
‘I am extremely honoured and proud to be a part of the core team that are looking to address the Kennedy recommendations. I feel strongly about making the College and surgery a diverse, welcoming and inclusive space, where we can all come together to collaborate and work towards providing excellent surgical care for everyone.  We will engage with our fellows, members, stakeholders and interested parties so that we can truly understand how we can effect change in a positive and meaningful way. Together, we can change the face of surgery.’
Lucy Davies, Executive Director of Membership, Marketing and Communications

About Lucy

Lucy has over sixteen years’ experience in roles within professional membership organisations. Lucy joined the College in 2015 and is responsible for the Membership, Marketing and Communication teams. Lucy has supported the development of the diversity and inclusion programme at the College and has led key initiatives including the Emerging Leaders Programme, Women in Surgery and the SAS forum. 

Matthew Garrett
Mr Matthew Garrett, Dean at the Faculty of Dental Surgery
‘I am proud the College is committed in ensuring that diversity, equality and inclusion are at the heart of all we do, and look forward to addressing the Action Plan.’
Mr Matthew Garrett, Dean at the Faculty of Dental Surgery

About Matthew

Matthew is the Dean at the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Matthew is also a Consultant in Restorative Dentistry at University College London NHS Foundation Trust.  Matthew has more recently become the dental lead on the diversity and inclusion core team and lead for LGBT+ health within the College. 

Tim Mitchell
Mr Tim Mitchell, Vice President
‘This Action Plan is a clear demonstration of our desire to embrace the recommendations of the Kennedy Report. It signals the start of a process which, with the support of our members, will make the College a more open, inclusive and outward looking organisation. I am very grateful to all the College staff and my fellow Council members for their invaluable contributions, and especially to Laura Harrison and the Core Team for overseeing its development.’
Mr Tim Mitchell, Vice President

About Tim

Tim Mitchell studied medicine at Brasenose College, Oxford before training in Otolaryngology in Oxford, London, Cambridge and Sydney. He was awarded the inaugural Graham Fraser Memorial Fellowship to work with Professor William Gibson in the field of cochlear implantation. He was appointed as Consultant Otolaryngologist in Southampton in 2000 and has a subspecialty interest in cochlear and other auditory implants with the University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service. He has been a RCS Regional Specialty Professional Advisor, member of Council of ENT UK, Vice Chair of the Clinical Reference Group for Specialised Ear Services and a member of the Specialist Advisory Committee for Otolaryngology. He has been a MRCS examiner since 2004 and was Chair of the Court of Examiners from 2014 to 2017. He was elected to Council in 2017. He is a trustee of ENT UK and an honorary member of the Medical Women’s Federation. He was appointed Vice President in 2020.

Neil Mortensen
Professor Neil Mortensen, President
‘When we invited Baroness Helena Kennedy to undertake the review into our professional leadership, we were under no illusion of the scale of change needed. We knew that our Council was not representative of the NHS, or society as a whole, and that those surgeons who did not fit the stereotype – white and male – did not feel the College or surgery were inclusive.

The personal testimonies in the report were harrowing and extremely upsetting to read. No one should be made to feel that they don’t belong. If surgery is to survive and thrive, it is crucial we retain and continue to recruit surgeons from all walks of life. Diversity brings knowledge and ensures our profession remains at the forefront of patient care for generations to come.

When we received the recommendations from the review, we fully committed to putting diversity at the heart of our strategy. In July 2021 we launched our new strategy, where diversity, equity and inclusion inform everything we do.

This is first of the sixteen recommendations we have brought to fruition, and we will continue to focus on delivering against our Action Plan. Although we realise there are no ‘quick fixes’ - as is often the case with change – we recognise that we must demonstrate that change is happening. We hope that this plan provides you with the information you need to hold us to account.’
Professor Neil Mortensen, President

About Neil

Neil Mortensen is Professor of Colorectal Surgery in the University of Oxford Medical School and has been on the staff of the Oxford University Hospitals since 1987, where he is currently honorary consultant colorectal surgeon. He is a Fellow of Green Templeton College. 

He trained in Birmingham, Bristol and St Mark’s Hospital and has clinical and research interests in a wide range of colorectal diseases. He is Past Chair of the British Journal of Surgery Society, Past President of the Ileostomy Association, and has been Past President of the Association of Coloproctology GBI and the Coloproctology Section of the Royal Society of Medicine. He is immediate past Editor in Chief of Colorectal Disease. 

He became a member of the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 2013. In 2017 he was appointed Vice President, and in 2020 President.

 
Andrew Reed
Andrew Reed, Chief Executive
‘The Royal College of Surgeons of England supports over 29,000 surgeons and surgical team members across the world. We can only do this well by embracing the sheer range of all those professionals and what they have to offer– their diversity of experience, diversity of background, diversity of culture and diversity of thought. By taking forward the recommendations of the Kennedy review we will enrich what we do and how we do it, and continue to promote excellent surgical care for all.’
Andrew Reed, Chief Executive

About Andrew

Andrew was appointed Chief Executive of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 2015 after nearly 35 years’ experience in NHS management. Born and brought up in Sunderland, he was only the fourth member of his family to attend university, and the first at Oxbridge. He joined the NHS as a graduate management trainee and worked in all sectors of the NHS. He was a Chief Executive for twelve years, including at Bedford Hospital (2001–5) and Ipswich Hospital (2005-12), before holding senior posts for NHS England in East Anglia and the West Midlands. He lives in Suffolk with his wife and three daughters.

Nuha Yassin
Miss Nuha Yassin, Council member
‘I would like to congratulate the Royal College of Surgeons of England and Professor Neil Mortensen for looking in the mirror. I would also like to extend my thanks to Baroness Helena Kennedy and the team for conducting the independent review into Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity within the College. I am honoured to be part of the core team who are working on the implementation of the recommendations set out by the Kennedy report. It is clear that the College has looked deeply into EDI matters, which is vital if we want to get it right the first time, as substance and content are key in achieving our aims, rather than speed of action.

It is important to highlight that this work is only the beginning - we plan to go beyond the recommendations and focus on other groups such as LGBTQ+ and ethnic minority groups. It’s only when we are inclusive and welcoming to all diverse groups that we can change the face of surgery.’
Miss Nuha Yassin, Council member

About Nuha

Nuha Yassin is a Consultant Colorectal Surgeon and has been on the staff of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust since September 2018. After qualifying from the University of Manchester in 2003, she trained in the North West, Yorkshire and West Midlands regions. Her postgraduate research experience was based at St Mark's Hospital in London where she obtained her PhD from Imperial College, London. Nuha is an elected Council Member of The Royal College of Surgeons of England (2021). She is passionate about all aspects of her work and personal life and truly believes that everyone has something amazing to contribute if given the chance. 

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