CEO update - spring 2022

Jo Revill shares her quarterly update on College activities, including our public affairs work and an upcoming programme created with children and young people, and she celebrates long-serving staff.
Jo Revill, Chief Executive Officer

This week, as our blackthorn winter brought us sunshine and then snow, the Health and Care Bill was wending its way through the Westminster Parliament, a slow river of legislative change which carries a great deal of hope and expectation with it.

Our Public Affairs team has worked with members to engage with MPs and peers and we are delighted to see concessions in the Bill which we put forward. These include a requirement on Integrated Care Boards in England to nominate an executive children's lead and to set out the steps they propose to meet the needs of children and young people in their local areas.

On a concerted front with the other Royal Colleges, we’ve argued for changes to strengthen workforce planning with an independent audit of the numbers needed in the NHS, now and in future years. We hope also to see measures setting out proper information sharing in relation to children’s health and social care and the safeguarding of children, a constant subject of discussion not just for England but with the four governments of the UK.

But it’s not all rosy. There is an amendment that was voted through by the Commons on Wednesday, which relates to early medical abortion. You may have read that the plan (known informally as Pills by Post policy) means that those seeking an early abortion in England will receive the medication at home. For many women, this is very much preferable to having to go to a clinic and be examined and it is a safe, well-researched approach.

However, there is one glaring gap. For children and young people and for Looked After Adults up to the age of 25, there exist safeguarding issues and other concerns. We have argued that there needs to be provision for this group to be offered, and actively encouraged, to have an in-person appointment, alongside the telemedicine approach. We made this case at the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, to the Department of Health and Social Care and in our briefings to MPs. One MP raised this during the debate. But the vote went against us.

Our last hope is that on April 5, when the amendment goes back to the Lords, is that there is further provision made for this. We may not be successful.

We want the bill refined in the parliamentary ‘ping-pong’ stage, when the bill bounces between the House of Commons and House of Lords until agreement is reached. So, if peers make amendments to a bill, the MPs then consider them and either agree or disagree and can make alternative proposals. If the Lords disagrees with any Commons amendments or puts forward alternatives, it is then sent back to the Commons. This process can last for quite some time, but it is often the way in which legislation is improved to take account of different needs. Ahead of Tuesday’s debate, we have a letter in the Times today urging Government and parliamentarians to take the needs of children and young people fully into account.

As a former lobby reporter myself, it reminds me of what Charles Dickens said while a parliamentary reporter for The Times:

Night after night, I record predictions that never come to pass, professions that are never fulfilled, explanations that are only meant to mystify.

We have no desire to mystify but to help MPs and peers listen to the needs of children and young people. Please do read our briefing.

Ambassadors working with RCPCH &Us

On a more positive note, I’m thrilled to see that we’ve been working with our &Us team to create a programme which will help members engage on a local basis with schools and others to encourage healthy living.

We’re going to provide a guide to help them create a youth action social programme, with videos and other material, suggesting ways in which innovative solutions can be found. There will be a whole suite of resources, involving young people, and led by Dr Ambalika Das whose energy for this has helped the whole team. Watch this space...

The value of long service

I’ve been thinking about how lucky we are as a College to have members of staff who choose to stay with us for ten years or more, giving a large portion of their waking hours to the organisation. The jobs market is torrid at present, and because of the huge labour shortages across the professions, it can be hard to attract and retain staff, but we have a number of long servers (which makes it sound like a prison sentence) who are vital for the running of the College. One wonderful example is a member of staff whom I won’t name, but has worked in our Education and Training division for 20 years. This is what their manager told me:

  • That they are diligent, hard-working and careful on detail
  • That during lockdown, they were the go-to person for their area of work, and had to see it transition to a remote format so that stakeholders could still engage with it
  • That they were the person who smiled at him when he first joined, and that he’s never forgotten it.

I look at what happened at P&O Ferries and like everyone else, feel nauseous when I think of what the staff must have felt when they were fired by video. Good organisations look after their staff but too often they overlook those who have stuck the course and provide that continuity, knowledge and assurance which keeps it all running. And then they give the welcoming smile, which in your first week in a new job, is priceless. No organisation can put a value on that.

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