RCPCH Conference 2018 Keynote Speakers

This year’s conference will welcome leading thinkers to explore topical issues in paediatrics and child health. They offer a diversity of experience and expertise to inspire, educate and stimulate discussion about developments in clinical practice. 

Tuesday 13 March

Professor David Archard

'Putting a child first: the paramountcy of best interests and parental rights'

David Archard

Dave Archard is Professor of Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast. He has written extensively in applied ethics, political and moral philosophy, especially on the subject of children’s rights, the family and the state.

His books include Procreation and Parenthood: The Ethics of Bearing and Rearing Children (2010); The Family: A Liberal Defence (2010), Reading Onora O’Neill (2013) and the 3rd edition of Children, Rights and Childhood (2015). He is a member of the Clinical Ethics Committee of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

He was a Member and Deputy Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Party ‘Critical Care Decisions in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine: Ethical Issues’ (September 2004 – Autumn 2006). From 2005 to 2017 he was a Member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and latterly its Deputy Chair and Chair of its Statutory Approvals Committee. He was appointed Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in May 2017.

Professor Neena Modi
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Neena Modi is Professor of Neonatal Medicine, Imperial College London, Consultant at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, and President of the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Neena qualified from the University of Edinburgh, and trained at University College Hospital London and Liverpool University. She leads a multidisciplinary neonatal research programme focused on nutritional and other perinatal determinants of life-long health. Her team developed and manage the National Neonatal Research Database, a unique and innovative resource of population wide electronic clinical data on every admission to a neonatal unit in England, Wales and Scotland. This is widely used for health services evaluations, including audit, quality improvement and benchmarking, and for a growing range of research studies by research groups nationally and internationally.

Neena is extensively published in original-research peer-reviewed journals and has also authored a number of chapters in textbooks, commentaries and reviews.  She directs the well-known “Neonatal Update: the science of newborn care”, a week-long meeting held in London each December that attracts a capacity national and international audience. 

Neena contributes to a number of working parties, and health services and research committees. She has held a large number of national roles including President of the UK Neonatal Society, President of the Academic Paediatrics Association of Great Britain and Ireland, Chair of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee, and Chair of the NHS England Infant, Children and Young People Patient Safety Expert Group.


Wednesday 14 March

Professor Anthony Costello

'Global governance for child health and sustainable development’

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In September 2015 Professor Anthony Costello joined the World Health Organisation in Geneva as Director of the Department of Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health.

Until 2015 Costello was Professor of International Child Health and Director of the Institute for Global Health at University College London (UCL). As founder of an international charity, Women and Children First, he helped to spread the results of his research work through mobilisation of women’s groups across Africa and south Asia. He also serves on the Board of the global Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, chaired by Dr Graca Machel. He chaired the 2009 Lancet Commission on Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change, and was co-chair of the 2015 Lancet Commission which linked the UK, China, Norway and Sweden on emergency actions to tackle the climate health crisis.

Anthony Costello holds fellowships of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal College of Physicians. In April 2011, he received the James Spence Medal of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. In May 2016 he received the BMJ Lifetime Achievement Award.

Professor Zulfiqar A. Bhutta

'Global Child Health; challenges and opportunities for change'

Zulfiqar Bhutta

Prof. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta is the Robert Harding Inaugural Chair in Global Child Health at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health and the Founding Director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health at the Aga Khan University.

He also holds adjunct professorships at several leading Universities globally including the Schools of Public Health at Johns Hopkins (Baltimore), Tufts University (Boston), Boston University School of Public Health, University of Alberta as well as the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Prof. Bhutta’s research interests include newborn and child survival, maternal and child undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. He leads large research groups based in Toronto, Karachi and Nairobi with a special interest in research synthesis, scaling up evidence based interventions in community settings and implementation research in health systems research. His group’s work with the WHO and PMNCH in developing consensus based essential interventions for women, children and adolescents is the dominant set of agreed interventions guiding global policy.  

As a widely published author Prof. Bhutta is on several international editorial advisory boards including the Lancet, BMJ, PLoS Medicine, PLoS ONE, BMC Public Health and the Cochrane CDPLG and ARI groups. He has published eight books, 88 book chapters, and over 730 indexed publications to date, including 145 in the world’s leading journal Lancet alone. Prof. Bhutta has also served as a member of the Global Advisory Committee for Health Research for the World Health Organization, the Board of Child & Health and Nutrition Initiative of Global Forum for Health Research, and the steering committees of the International Zinc and Vitamin A Nutrition Consultative Groups.


Thursday 15 March  

Professor Jason Leitch

'Scotland - the best place for kids to grow up?'

Jason Leitch

Jason has worked for the Scottish Government since 2007 and in January 2015 was appointed as The National Clinical Director in the Health and Social Care Directorate.

He is a Scottish Government Director and a member of the Health and Social Care Management Board. He is one of the senior team responsible for the NHS in Scotland.

He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Dundee. Jason was the 2011 UK Clinician of the Year.

He is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). He was a 2005-06 Quality Improvement Fellow at IHI, in Boston, sponsored by the Health Foundation.

Jason is also a trustee of the UK wing of the Indian Rural Evangelical Fellowship which runs orphanages in southeast India.

He has a doctorate from the University of Glasgow, an MPH from Harvard and is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.  He is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Jason was appointed to NHS England review group led by Don Berwick looking into the patient safety elements of the Francis Inquiry.

Professor John Lantos

'Should we be resuscitating babies born at 22 weeks?'


Professor John Lantos, MD, is a general pediatrician and bioethicist. He has served as President of both the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities and the American Society of Law Medicine and Ethics.

He was a member of President Clinton’s health reform task force in 1993 and a consultant to President Bush’s Bioethics Council. 

He has published hundreds of peer-reviewed articles and many books, including The Lazarus Case, Neonatal Bioethics, and Do We Still Need Doctors? 

He has discussed designer babies on Larry King Live, medical errors on Oprah, and ethics consultations on Nightline.

He is currently Director of a Pediatric Bioethics Center and Children’s Mercy Hospital and Professor of Pediatrics at University of Missouri in Kansas City.

Shona Robison MSP

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Shona Robison is a Scottish politician who is Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport and Scottish National Party Member of the Scottish Parliament for Dundee City East since 2011.

As the Cabinet Secretary, Shona is responsible for; Allied Healthcare services, carers, adult care and support, child and maternal health, dentistry, health care and social integration, implementing the 2020 vision, national clinical strategy, quality strategy and national service planning, medical records, health improvement and protection, mental health, NHS and its performance, staff and pay, patient services and patient safety, physical activity, sport, primary care, acute services elective centres, problem alcohol use and recovery, public health and healthy working lives and sexual health.