Dr Hilary Cass

Former RCPCH President

Start year of presidency: 2012

End year of presidency: 2015

Dr Hilary Cass OBE is a consultant in Paediatric Disability at Evelina London Children's Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. She was President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health between 2012 and 2015, and was awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to child health.

Hilary has had two driving passions throughout her career; firstly, to develop inclusive, multi-professional models of care for children and young people, which cut across the boundaries between hospital, community, and primary care settings, and secondly to empower doctors in training to take control of their lives and the environment in which they work, because she believes that they are the best engineers of the future NHS.

After qualifying at Royal Free Hospital, London in 1982, Hilary trained as a general paediatrician, and then went on to develop her higher specialist training in the field of disability. She has held clinical consultant roles in three tertiary centres.

Over the years her clinical interests have included children with autistic spectrum disorders, children with cognitive impairment secondary to epilepsy, children with visual impairment, and management of children with multiple disabilities, with particular reference to feeding and communication problems. She runs a national service for children with Rett syndrome and has published widely in this area.

Since 2008, recognising the important interface between disability and palliative care, she started to take on a more active clinical role in this area. She established the Paediatric Palliative Care Service at Evelina London, before moving into her role as RCPCH President.

Over a 15 year period at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Hilary held a number of senior management roles including Director of Postgraduate Medical Education and Deputy Medical Director. She has held several regional and national roles in medical education and policy development, including Head of School of Paediatrics for London.

At Great Ormond Street she ran a highly successful programme (Snakes and Ladders), which used role players to re-enact the ups and downs of the patient journey and teach clinical governance and improvement skills to staff across the hospital. The series culminated in a book for both patients and professionals.

She also set up a junior doctor leadership team - the DocReps - which put frontline trainees in charge of many of the innovations within the hospital. She carried this model of junior doctor leadership across to both the London School of Paediatrics and to Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. Hilary has been extensively involved with the Department of Health and several regional and national bodies in developing new models of integrated paediatric care.

Hilary is currently Senior Clinical Advisor to Health Education England, responsible for strategy on the development of the child health workforce. She continues to hold a series of education and management roles, both at Evelina and within the London School of Paediatrics. As part of her role at Evelina London, she is involved in development of new primary-secondary care interface and education models through the Children’s and Young People’s Health Partnership within Lambeth and Southwark.

Outside of her NHS posts, she is a Trustee of Together for Short Lives, the children’s palliative care charity, and is a Governor at DeMontfort University where she is involved in a programme of work with some of the poorest children and families in India’s slums. She will be taking on the Chair of the British Academy of Childhood Disability from March 2017.