Heading into the summer break – President’s blog: 30 July 2021

Our latest admissions ceremony for new Fellows, members and award winners was a feast of talent and pride, says Camilla. She also introduces two important annual reports just published, on race equality and on the experiences of trainees and trainers.

I’ve got that “end of term” feeling!  We are in that slightly frantic phase of the year with annual reports being produced, prize givings taking place and everyone desperately hoping the warm weather will last for their holidays!

Celebrating our Fellows

We held the College Fellowship and Membership Ceremony on 23 July. It was a virtual ceremony where nine Honorary Fellowships were awarded, as well as the 2020 and 2021 research prizes and the admission of a number of new Fellows and Members. It was a feast of talent, success and genuine pride.

In a strange way, the online format made it rather special because each prize winner was given the opportunity to say a few words. We heard Dr Jenny Harries OBE talk about how she nearly chose paediatric surgery as her specialty because she was so compelled by the impact of the early years on the whole life course and how she uses that fact in her working life as a Public Health Doctor and now Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency. We also heard from Professor Zulfi Bhutta who joined us in the small hours of the Canadian morning to receive his Honorary Fellowship. He was keen to impress upon us the importance of the global community of paediatricians and child health experts, and how we will achieve so much more by collaboration as we approach the post-pandemic world. Each of our award winners spoke compellingly and it was a really joyful event.

Medical Workforce Race Equality Standard

I would strongly encourage us all to commit to playing our part in making the NHS a fairer workplace

Two important annual reports have been published this month which I would like to bring to your attention. The first is the inaugural Medical workforce race equality standard (WRES) report. The MWRES was established in September 2020 to specifically focus on the impact of race on the experiences of the medical workforce in the NHS in England and this is their first annual report. There are 11 indicators against which they report, giving us a clear picture of what the current situation is and data to help us move forwards and address some entrenched racist practices that have been ignored for too long. Why do Black and ethnic minority doctors need more attempts at securing a consultant post than their equivalently trained White counterparts? Why are International Medical Graduates more likely to have a formal complaint made against them? Many other compelling questions are raised by this report.

I promise you that, as a College, we will take responsibility for the recommendations in the report that we can influence and change. However, each one of us also has a role to play and I would strongly encourage us all to commit to playing our part in making the NHS a fairer workplace where anyone with the desire to work hard to improve patient care can flourish.  

GMC 2021 National training survey report

The second important annual report is the General Medical Council’s 2021 National training survey report. This year’s report is an important one because it marks the insights and experiences of trainees and trainers in probably the most extraordinary training year for a generation. The most concerning headline finding is that burnout rates are at their highest for trainees and trainers since the report started enquiring about burnout. This is a particular cause for concern because the pandemic is not yet over. On the positive side, and despite the current difficulties, the majority of trainees rated the quality of their training as good or very good, and 88% rated their clinical supervision as good or very good. This is remarkable and a huge credit to everyone who supervises training.

Again, the College will carefully consider our role in enhancing flexibility, promoting inclusivity and prioritising wellbeing as potential solutions to addressing the problems raised.  

JCVI advice on COVID-19 vaccination for 12 to 17 year olds

We now have the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s (JCVI) current advice on COVID-19 vaccination for 12 to 17 year olds. We are working with our colleagues at the Royal College of General Practitioners and the NHS across the four UK nations to understand the implementation of the advice and next steps. We are also waiting to see if the advice from JCVI changes in the future.

You will find our response and FAQs on this website.

Dame Clare Marx

Finally, I found the recent email that those of us in the UK received from Dame Clare Marx, Chair of the GMC, very moving. Her decision to step down as Chair on account of her recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is very sad news. Her beautifully worded email emphasising the importance of compassion in all aspects of our work, including in leadership has, I know, touched so many. The greatest tribute we can pay Dame Clare is to take her words to heart.

Schools are out all over the UK now! I trust that you will find time for a break and an opportunity to re-charge your batteries. Let’s hope the sun shines!

Take care,

Camilla


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