President's priorities - 2015
At the start of her three-year tenure as RCPCH President in 2015, Professor Neena Modi sets out her priorities…
- Improving the science and research base for children’s healthcare
- Advocating for children in a changing world
- Helping you in your careers
- Involving young people, parents and carers
I’ve spent many years leading a research group and am acutely aware that children are under-represented in discovery science, clinical, and health services research. This places the safety and wellbeing of children at risk.
In 2012 the RCPCH launched Turning the Tide in which we made recommendations to strengthen children’s research in the UK. Since then a new National Institute for Health Research Children Network has been established. However the 2014 RCPCH workforce census shows a further 8.3% reduction in consultant-level academic staff to the lowest number in over a decade. Children’s research also continues to rely disproportionately on public and charitable funding. We need to change the way industry views child health, and child health researchers must up their game.
So this year we launched the ‘UK Child Health Research Collaboration', a forum for funders, and other organizations, to optimise available resources. We’re developing a Children’s Research Charter to give a voice to parents, children and young people about how they want to be involved. And we’re working hard to increase research posts and experience, improve generic research and evaluation skills and appraise all paediatric trainees against these competences.
My aim is to empower paediatricians so that each and every one can contribute not only to delivering but also to advancing children’s healthcare.
I will continue to advocate on issues that our members, young people, and parents tell us are important, from poverty, obesity, health inequalities and child protection, to health services and the impact of the erosion of the founding principles of the NHS on child wellbeing. On some issues we will lead, on others we will collaborate with a range of organisations.
Do read our ‘First 100 day challenge’ to the new UK Government. This includes calls for an evaluation of the impact of the Chancellor’s annual budget statement on child poverty and inequality, a cross-departmental Child Health Strategy, a Children’s Minister to direct integration across health, education, and social care, and greater investment in prevention and early intervention.
There are major changes underway within the NHS in England following upon the passage of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. We will be monitoring developments closely, including the further devolution of responsibility for health services to large urban conurbations, first of which is Manchester. Please let us know what is happening on the ground so we have an accurate picture and can advocate effectively.
We provide a number of resources to assist paediatricians, including guidance on difficult areas such as research ethics, newborn palliative care, end-of-life decisions and the Facing the Future standards. We also conduct surveillance and audits of children’s health and outcomes in areas such as epilepsy, diabetes and my own specialism, neonatal care. I intend to increase these activities, because without data it’s impossible to know with certainty how children are faring.
Colleagues tell me that they fear the professionalism of doctors and nurses is being damaged by an increasingly box ticking mentality. I am on a working group established as part of the Maternity Review set up in the wake of the Morecambe Bay Report where we shall be considering these and related issues. The country has also been outraged by what has happened to NHS whistle-blowers and we will support professionals who speak out when they’re concerned.
I’d like the next generation of doctors to have fulfilled careers that grow and develop in keeping with their age, experience and ambition. We also need to be mindful that children need doctors who provide care across a range of settings and that they may not be best served by the traditional primary, secondary and tertiary care model, so we’re consulting with members on the Shape of Training report. This provides welcome opportunity to influence future medical training.
Underpinning all our activities is the involvement of parents and young people. Our very active and vocal Youth Advisory Panel and Parent and Carer Advisory Group, recently rebranded RCPCH & US, are core to this and provide a host of ways to share their views and experiences with the RCPCH and other organisations.
We want to ensure the voices of children, young people and parents are at the heart of all we do and we shall continue to do our best to increase opportunities for them to get involved. If you’d like to find out more or know someone who would like to join these efforts please go to the & Us webpages.