Building collaborative foundations and enabling you to thrive - reflecting on our disability workshop

At RCPCH Conference earlier this summer, our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) member reference group ran its first ever disability workshop. Facilitator Dr Sophie Jackson explains the planning, hopes and ambitions for the workshop.
Sophie Jackson on a colourful background, which is also on our Working for change one year on report

As a volunteer of the RCPCH EDI member reference group, I was thrilled to be involved in our first ever disability workshop running as part of RCPCH Conference. The event complemented other stimulating EDI-themed sessions at the conference. The previous year there was a strong focus on ethnicity; this year we brought disability into the frame.

Dr Fizz Izagaren (Paediatric Emergency Medicine Trainee) and I (Paediatric Trainee), alongside College staff, designed a packed 90-minute interactive and engaging programme. We were lucky to have the session chaired by Dr Camilla Kingdon, RCPCH President and Chair of EDI member reference group.

Bringing in many viewpoints

We wanted to give attendees an opportunity to learn more about disability within paediatrics by including lived experience, audience participation and lively debate. Fizz and I each reflected on our own experiences working as paediatricians with a disability. We felt it vital to give a platform to a young person, and Emma spoke on a recent report about EDI and young people with disabilities.

To conclude, we held a panel discussion on how improving accessibility can enable paediatricians to thrive. Our panellists represented an inspiring line-up of diverse perspectives and roles within medicine, from those with physical health conditions and neurodiversity to disability allies. 

We wanted to ensure we had leadership figures at the session, and so were delighted to have representatives from both Health Education England (HEE) and British Medical Association (BMA).

HEE has a major role in coordinating medical training as well as regulating clinicians and developing new healthcare strategies. Fundamentally, we need collaboration with policy-making organisations to achieve progressive and sustainable change. The BMA advocates for doctors and actively campaigns to improve their working lives. BMA's support works in synergy to Occupational Health who can offer practical information on negotiating reasonable adjustments in the workplace. Our panel heard from both viewpoints.

A warm reception

The session was extremely warmly received. Camilla did a fantastic job of scene setting and our speakers really brought to life their individual challenges and experiences.

Thank you also to our inspirational young person, Emma, who stole the show sharing her invaluable perspective as a child and now young person, accessing healthcare. She highlighted the need to allow young people autonomy, maintain their dignity and ensure continuity of care - particularly when transitioning to adult services.

Insights from the attendees

Our audience raised some important questions about how supervisors can best support trainees with disabilities, and we noted the General Medical Council's Welcomed and valued guidance. Essentially, support should be individualised and dynamic as requirements may vary from one rotation to another. Conversations need to be open and collaborative, so trainees feel able to disclose if they need additional support and are proactively asked. This discussion highlighted the importance of making sure educational supervisor training includes disability awareness.

We asked attendees what they learned, and here’s some of what they told us:

Acknowledging not everyone who has the same disability, has the same accessibility needs

We all have a role in making the workplace accessible. Feel very empowered and more knowledgeable…

Of simply asking trainees with disabilities, 'how can I help?'

Being open to change… to hear and not just listen

As the EDI member reference group we will continue to discuss and push forward ideas for change and improvements. A few of my fellow members have spoken about the successes, challenges and wishes for the group in a podcast!

If you’d like to get involved with the group, or have further ideas on priority areas for the group to focus on, – please do get in touch on