Galvanising us to action – President’s blog: 18 June 2021

Camilla reflects on an energetic RCPCH Conference Online with desire for action, engagement and "being boat rockers". She congratulates Andrew Pollard for his extraordinary services in the pandemic and highlights new opportunities for our members.

One of my childhood memories of summer was school fetes and fairs, open air concerts and sports days! It felt good to get out and enjoy being together, cheering for a team or eating lots of ice cream. I have a feeling like that this week! We unfortunately aren’t together cheering for our team….. nor are we enjoying ice cream or cocktails in the sunshine, but we have much to celebrate as paediatricians and it is important to take a moment to do that.

I have been truly taken aback by the energy and active participation in all the sessions and how much some of the topics covered seem to galvanise paediatricians towards a desire for action, engagement and genuine interest.

Our 2021 RCPCH Conference Online has been an amazing celebration of the science, art, humanity and the joy of paediatrics. With over 1,700 delegates registered from all around the world, it was always going to be an exciting and energising three days. However, I have been truly taken aback by the energy and active participation in all the sessions and how much some of the topics covered seem to galvanise paediatricians towards a desire for action, engagement and genuine interest. With topics like climate change, health inequalities, new models of care, frugal innovation, child mental health and so much more, I guess it isn’t surprising that so many people have wanted to pose questions, enter into debate and state their views. Never let it be said that we are complacent and lacking in energy and interest!

I loved a comment in the chat during Sir Michael Marmot’s inspiring but very sobering presentation on the impact of COVID-19 on child health inequalities and building back fairer. He very eloquently talked about how doctors continue to be highly trusted by the public and that our trusted position gives us opportunities to be advocate for change. As he was talking, someone wrote, “As paediatricians we can and should be boat rockers!” That certainly sounds like a call to action, and I very much agree.

For those of you who registered for the conference but haven’t yet had a chance to view the sessions on demand, you have a treat ahead! Please take time to give us your feedback. The Conference is very much our collective event, and we want to meet the needs and interests of as many who attend as possible. The Conference Committee and the College Events and Marketing team have put huge amounts of time and effort into organising the conference and certainly for our 2021 event they have done us proud! Thank you so much, and we’re all looking forward to (and hoping that nothing stops us) meeting in person in Liverpool next year for our 2022 Conference.

As a College we have hugely benefitted from [Andrew Pollard's] wisdom as a member of our COVID-19 Expert Reference Group where he, and several others, have helped RCPCH develop guidelines, navigate difficult decisions and offer expertise and support.

My sense of summer celebration this week was kickstarted by the announcement at the weekend in the Queen’s Birthday Honours that Andrew Pollard is to receive a knighthood for his extraordinary services in the pandemic that led to the development of the AstraZeneca vaccine. I am sure that I am not the only paediatrician who felt strangely reassured during 2020 that someone with a track record in vaccinology like Andy at the helm, we’d get to the point of having a vaccine that would help get us out of this tragic pandemic. As a College we have hugely benefitted from his wisdom as a member of our COVID-19 Expert Reference Group where he, and several others, have helped RCPCH develop guidelines, navigate difficult decisions and offer expertise and support. We are proud that his efforts in responding to the pandemic have been recognised and we offer him our warmest congratulations. I think he sums it up perfectly in a tweet he posted over the weekend, “Paediatrics has been the best training for a pandemic: defending the health of the next generation is what we do”. Brilliantly put, Sir Andrew!

Before I sign off – if you’re inspired by the Conference and want to get more involved in College work, we are currently recruiting to an Assistant Officer for Trainer Development role. This is a new volunteer post, and it is perfect for a paediatrician committed to supporting colleagues to become great educational supervisors and role models. So please take a look at this and our other roles to see if you are tempted.

Let’s continue to celebrate our successes – and take care.

Camilla


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