For children and young people to get the best possible outcomes in their health, paediatricians must be inquisitive, challenge current perceptions and seek the truth about what is the optimal treatment for their condition. All of us should want to participate in research, as ultimately this will be the only way to improve health.
What does that mean for those of us in Wales? For many years Wales has had an excellent background in performing research into child protection, endocrinology/diabetes, gastroenterology and neonatology to mention a few.
We have encouraged trainees with the Welsh Research and Education Network (WREN) to be engaged in research. The Welsh Paediatric Surveillance Unit (WPSU) collaborates closely with the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit (BPSU) and has regularly had one of the highest return rates across the UK. Our Children and Young Adults Research Unit (CYARU) at Noah’s Ark Children’s hospital is also active recently participating in COVID-19 research.
Is everything good with research currently in Wales? No. Despite this proud previous track record, I am concerned about the future of paediatric research. Fewer trainees are getting involved in research and there are challenges with funding for child health departments and professorial posts.
We need to ensure that children are not ignored in funding. The benefits we discover for their health in childhood will almost certainly have lifelong benefits. Long live research!