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Observations BMJ Confidential

Sheila Hollins: Looking beyond learning disabilities

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 06 July 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i3572


Sheila Hollins is emeritus professor of psychiatry of disability at St George’s, University of London, and a crossbench member of the House of Lords. After qualifying at St Thomas’ Hospital she worked as a GP in south London before training as a psychiatrist. She specialised in learning disability and is chair of Beyond Words, a community interest company that helps to communicate health and wellbeing to people who find pictures easier than words. A Roman Catholic, Hollins was appointed in 2014 by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. She has been president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the BMA, and she chaired the BMA’s board of science until June this year.

What was your earliest ambition?

To conduct an orchestra.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Joan Bicknell, the UK’s first professor in the psychiatry of mental handicap, who appointed me to St George’s in 1981 and whom I succeeded in 1990. …

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