CEO update - Summer 2022

In her latest update, RCPCH Chief Executive Jo Revill shares news with our members that she will be leaving the College.
Jo Revill, RCPCH CEO
After more than four years at the College, I’ve decided to stand down from the role as Chief Executive Officer. It was a difficult decision, leaving a job that gives you an unparalleled insight into so many aspects of humanity; above all, working with paediatricians, managers and health leaders who are all trying to make the improvements that we want to see was a real privilege.

I started at the College in June 2018, just a few months after Russell Viner took up the presidency and it was a very busy period. The College was at the centre of the development of the children and young peoples’ part of the Ten-Year Plan for NHS England. With immense panache, Russell began dialogue with many leaders to give us more clout, politically and within the four health services of the UK. The COVID-19 pandemic closed the College in March 2020, but only its building: the work that we did in advising governments, providing fast, accurate guidance on so many clinical and service issues was extraordinary. I will never forget the weekly meetings held with experts from across paediatrics, feeding in advice and ideas in so many areas including vaccines, school closures, care for those who needed community services. We realised that as we added advice to our website, many members in different countries could access it and feed it into their own plans.

we face new challenges but the impact of our organisation in its 26th year of existence has never been greater.

As we now emerge from the difficulties of the past two years, we face new challenges but the impact of our organisation in its 26th year of existence has never been greater. With Camilla Kingdon as President, the challenges for the workforce and around health inequalities has taken on a fresh perspective and urgency which I’ve tried to prioritise. Our membership has grown considerably and with it, the strengthening of our communities to support all those in child health. Our examinations and assessment work lies at the heart of the College’s activity and is core to enabling each generation to develop the skills and knowledge to care for children. From the demands for remote assessments, we are now turning activities back to face to face events but hopefully keeping hold of the many innovations that came around during this period.

A lot of the job of a CEO falls under “Getting Stuff Done”, the daily task of running an organisation to deliver what is needed for the membership, ensuring that we can remain financially sustainable, mitigating risks, recruiting and retaining talented staff and increasingly, find new ways of developing digitally. There is the dread around the coming winter which is going to be exceptionally tough for many young people, families and carers so the past six months has been spent trying to plan how we can meet even a portion of the need that paediatricians will see in clinic (or perhaps not see if patients cannot attend). However difficult, it’s amazing to work with our Officers who are elected or appointed to their roles, and who give so selflessly of their time to direct our activities, whether it’s engaging with young people, producing documents on areas of ethical importance or around the safety of medicines. All this work means that we can be rightly proud of the impact we have in the UK and internationally.

I know that what I’ve seen at the RCPCH will stay with me forever.

I work with more than 170 staff who outshine me daily with their knowledge and skills which they wear lightly; they are not arrogant or self-entitled, and their concerns are about how they can meet the needs of their roles, at a time when the external environment is so tough. There is a lot of humour too and returning to the office for a few days each week has enabled teams to share some lighter moments after years of working on a laptop in the kitchen. Of the many aspects of life that I have learned about in this past four years, it’s that everything, absolutely every aspect of work, falls or succeeds according to the culture you build up. Ours is one that is informed by our charity values, and I come back a great deal to the seven Nolan principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. I’m going to spend time thinking about where my career might take me in 2023, but I know that what I’ve seen at the RCPCH will stay with me forever.

Of these seven principles, I think that objectivity can be the hardest for a medical royal college to achieve because the passion for the patients that are served, or the immense workforce issues can sometimes blind you to the realities. But it’s also the passion that informs the integrity of any organisation and a College that wasn’t fired up by fiery debate and fiercely argued points really wouldn’t be much of a College at all.

Thank you all for the time, ideas and support that you’ve given me in explaining your world and insisting that the College does something to improve it. I’ll now hand this role over to the next person, and I know that it will go on to do even more remarkable work.

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