Senior NHS engagement advisor : Kulwant Singh Sehmi FRPS, FOIA Ophthalmic Vision Scientist,
Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Trust
Kulwant, better known to his friends and colleagues as ‘Sehmi’ arrived in the UK from Kenya in October 1965 and studied photographic sciences at Hull regional college. After completing his studies he travelled to the London School of Medical Photography at Charing Cross Hospital. In 1969, he joined Moorfields eye hospital where he developed pioneering work in fluorescein angiography. At that stage, he was one of only two BAME staff in his department. Since then, he has led on developing the technique of retinal angiography, which at the time was new, but is now used globally.
Kulwant was the first turbaned Sikh to work in the hospital and his white, pressed turban has been his customary trademark during 51 years of continuous service in the NHS. He recollects that in the early days retinal imaging was offered in his lunch break, between routine work commitments. He has no regrets relating to his long, fruitful association with his employer and has only praise for his colleagues for their support.
Throughout his career he has travelled the globe and worked with many famous patients. In 1982, Kulwant was the first person to be awarded a fellowship in ophthalmic imaging by the Royal Photographic Society. Given his long career in the NHS, he has seen the slow cultural transformation within the diversity of the NHS, and he feels strongly about recognising the contribution of BAME staff – not just in his field but across the NHS as a wider organisation.