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5 minutes with Sabrina Bajwah

22 September 2022

Meet Dr Sabrina Bajwah, a Clinical Senior Lecturer and the chair of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Executive Group at the Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy & Rehabilitation. The clinical palliative care team at the Institute were recently shortlisted for the NHS Race Equality Award category at the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Awards for their ‘Equitable Care for All Ethnicities at the end-of-life’ project. To celebrate this achievement, we took 5 minutes with Sabrina to learn more about her career & life outside work…

Sabrina Bajwah

Briefly, tell us about your career journey up to this point…

I am a medical doctor. I originally trained as a GP and then as a Palliative Care Specialist. I have worked in the NHS as a Palliative Care Consultant since 2009. In 2005, the King’s MSc in Palliative Care, with Irene Higginson as my supervisor, ignited my passion for research. I subsequently did a PhD at the Cicely Saunders Institute and joined King’s as a Clinical Senior Lecturer in 2017. I have chaired the Institute's Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Executive Group since 2018 and continue to work clinically 50% of the time. I believe my research makes me a better clinician, and my clinical work makes me a better academic.

What do you hope to achieve this year?

Within the Institute's EDI Executive Group, we understand the importance of intersectionality. We have been working hard to action meaningful change in race equality throughout our academic and clinical work. This has involved a Race Equality Action Plan that has resulted in meaningful change for patients and staff in Palliative Care. We are delighted that this has been recognised by the most prestigious awards in healthcare. We want to build on this achievement and use it as a springboard for further initiatives within the academic and clinical setting to improve race equality for staff, students, and patients.

Do you have any current projects that you would like to tell us about?

Earlier this year, we worked hard to achieve the renewal of our Athena SWAN Silver award. We were delighted to get excellent feedback on our submission, including a recommendation to apply for a Gold award. Part of this future application will include our sector-leading maternity leave analyses which we have been working on for the last four years:

In 2019, the Institute's EDI group formed a maternity task force.  We sent Freedom of Information Requests to all 24 Russell Group Universities. This allowed a comparison of the likelihood of returning to work following maternity leave for those on fixed-term contracts versus open-ended contracts and described variation between universities in the maternity provision. We found that odds of returning to work after maternity leave are lower for staff on fixed terms compared to open-ended contracts. Importantly, maternity provision for fixed-term contract workers varies between institutions. This work has been published in Gender, Work and Organisation and reported on in Times Higher Education.

We are now carefully considering ways to take this work forward and maximise the impact. We would like this to be a key activity for our future Athena SWAN Gold application.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Don’t care so much what everyone else thinks.

Quick Fire:

What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?


Should we offer your tea, coffee… or something else?

Coffee, please.

Ideal dinner guest?

Barack Obama.

What’s one thing about you that surprises people?

I love mindless reality television. Currently, I am watching ‘Married at First Sight UK’. My day-to-day clinical job involves death and dying and can be emotionally challenging. Leading the EDI work can also be draining and triggering. So, I am a big fan of switching off in the evening. Mindless reality television is how I do it!

Favourite way to spend a day?

With my children

In this story

Sabrina Bajwah

Sabrina Bajwah

Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Palliative Care

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