Kirsty Colquhoun

February 28, 2023

Kirsty Colquhoun

What do you do?

I am a consultant geriatrician – a hospital consultant who looks after older adults.  I specialise in looking after older adults with cancer.  As a result, I am the secretary for the British Geriatrics Society, Oncogeriatric Specialist Interest Group.  Other clinical work I do is, see people who come in as an emergency, run a falls clinic and run a ward for older adults who are acutely unwell.  My main non clinical interest is undergraduate education – delivering education to medical students, as such  I am a subdean for the University of Glasgow Medical School and honorary clinical lecturer.  Due to my disability I am interested in equity, diversity and inclusion work.  I was an EDI lead for the University of Glasgow Medical School and I am the physician representative for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons EDI group.

I am a trustee for Cerebral Palsy Scotland.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Swimming 10km down the Spey (a Scottish River), 4 hours of non stop swimming in 11 degrees.  A big physical challenge, but also physiological – since the cold can cause muscle spasms in those of us with Cerebral Palsy.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

In recent years.  Working in the NHS during the COVID pandemic has been hugely challenging – physically and emotionally.  I worked in COVID wards.  At one point, at the peak of the pandemic, our  older adults dept. in my hospital, was looking after 10% of Scotland’s  COVID inpatients.  I have fantastic colleagues and the only way we got through this was with team work and supporting each other.  All the additional work pressures had a negative impact on my physical health – keeping fit doing pilates and seeing a physio has helped.  Especially as the pressures in the NHS continue.

Who was your role-model growing up?

It sounds naff…but probably my parents.  Although I wouldn’t have said that at the time.  One thing that has always stuck in my head that they said.  They were founder members of Bobath Scotland. “We are not doing this to help you, it will probably not, but to make it easier for the people that come after you”  I now always remember that – you should use your expertiese and experiences, not to help yourself, but mainly to help others.  I always hope that by sharing my experiences of living with Cerebral Palsy I can support younger people with Cerebral Palsy.

My friend Susie who I swam with – she has spina bifida and was the only disabled person I knew who had gone to medical school – so I thought I could do that too.  She also wore very cool converse and was a bit of a style icon for someone who struggled to feel stylish when they couldn’t wear high heels.

I was also (and still am) a Jarvis Cocker super fan.

What do you think would help more adults with CP achieve their ambitions?

I think one of the main thing is challenging societies negative attitudes towards disability.  People with Cerebral Palsy still face huge stigma.