I’ve been thinking a lot about the work I do at the College, as I approach the end of my first year in the role of President. It’s been an extremely busy year and I have learnt vast amounts, met huge numbers of amazing paediatricians, been pushed well and truly out of my comfort zone on occasion – but mostly worked hard and enjoyed it enormously!
It is hard though to measure success, especially as the world we live and work in is beset with problems and challenges. Nevertheless, it is important to appreciate progress and achievement – even though success may be hard to define precisely. I had a wonderful experience last week that reminded me of this. I chair the RCPCH Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Members Reference Group. We started our EDI work in Summer 2020 and we have had exceptionally good member engagement with the group. It hasn’t been plain sailing and we’ve had some bumps and setbacks along the way. I am very clear that this is a College priority and it is work that will extend into the future, as long as differential attainment and any form of discrimination exists in the workplace. Our Members Reference Group meeting last week was proof to me of how far we have come. We met for two hours online and most of it was spent sharing ideas, challenging beliefs, raising and discussing some very difficult and painful issues.
Some important action points have been taken away from the meeting, but the part that I treasured the most was witnessing 15 highly engaged paediatricians from a wide range of career stages and backgrounds collaborating and discussing issues that really matter, in the knowledge that we are committed to doing something good and improving the working lives of paediatricians. Creating a sense of belonging and being valued is fundamental to a good workplace culture. Our College EDI group shows me how you can achieve that and it’s humbling to be part of it. So my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues in the EDI Members Reference Group, and to many others who have helped and supported me in my first year as President.
Acute hepatitis in children
You will all be aware of the cases of acute hepatitis in predominantly under 5 year old children in the UK and many other countries too. Most of the children have also had evidence of adenovirus infection and the leading hypothesis is that the hepatitis is linked to adenovirus, but there remains a great deal of uncertainty about the precise causation. To help answer this very important question, the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit (BPSU) has launched a study to try and understand this and gather as much useful data from cases as possible, at pace. Please make sure you register any cases you have seen since January 2022 with the BPSU. Remember, it was partly thanks to the BPSU’s work that we quickly came to understand PIMS-TS in some detail in the early months of the COVID pandemic and also understood more clearly about the risk and incidence of neonatal COVID infection. We can only develop our understanding of new and emerging diseases by using rapid surveillance programmes such as the BPSU – please make sure you complete your monthly BPSU return.
Health and Care Bill now law in England
Last month, the Health and Care Bill in England officially became law as the Health and Care Act 2022. The Act now places the Integrated Care Systems across 42 areas in England on a statutory footing – with the aim of better integrating hospital and community-based services, physical and mental health facilities, and health and social care. I’m delighted that through our advocacy, working with other child health organisations and members of the House of Lords, major changes to the Bill were achieved to put children and young people at the heart of the statutory framework. Take a look to learn more about what the Act means for children’s health.
NHSE National Clinical Director (NCD) for Children and Young People
Professor Simon Kenny is the NCD for Children at NHS England and it has been a real pleasure working with him and his team as we have tackled a wide variety of issues that are relevant to services for children and young people. Before Easter, Simon and I recorded a podcast where we had a fantastic discussion about a huge range of national priority topics, including the pandemic, how we address growing inequalities, the responsibilities of his role, and how he combines this with his day job as a consultant paediatric surgeon at Alder Hey. I think you’ll hear some interesting insights and so I commend this podcast to you for your next bus/train trip or run/walk. You can give it a listen through our website, or your usual podcast channels.
Improving air quality
Improving air quality is a top focus for us recently, and earlier this week we marked World Asthma Day by highlighting the link between air pollution and asthma. We will be working hard to respond to a government consultation on setting new air quality targets in England. Our view is that the proposed target lacks ambition and is not strong enough to achieve healthy air for all. We encourage members in England to respond to this consultation as an individual, and there is a tool available on our website to help you to do that. You’ll also see a toolkit from our climate change working group to support you with talking to your local councils and MPs about air pollution in your area. The DEFRA consultation is England-only but we are active on this topic in all four nations and internationally, and this toolkit is designed for use in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland too.
Enabling workforce recovery
Senior NHS leaders this week wrote to all NHS Trusts, medical and nursing directors in England to ask them to look at how further flexibility in roles can be enabled to help elective recovery, while also encouraging support for training and education, which were heavily impacted by the pandemic. You can see the full letter here.
Guidance for Educational Supervisors
In March, we celebrated 500 days until our new training programme, Progress+, is introduced. We have plenty of guidance on our website and have also created a series of free events for Educational Supervisors [link currently not available - new events will be published on our http://www.rcpch.ac.uk/news-events/events/news-events/events] which will share how Progress+ will impact you and your trainees and what you can do now to prepare. Your support will be critical, so I urge you all to attend.
See you at the 2022 RCPCH Conference!
We are putting on a fantastic conference in Liverpool this year from 28 to 30 June. Whatever your professional interest, you will find sessions in the programme to support your CPD. You may just be longing to see friends and colleagues off the screen and in the flesh! That is a good enough reason to join us and the programme includes plenty of opportunities to relax, exercise and socialise with colleagues. Please don’t miss out on the Early Bird conference rates and come and join us next month! Find out more about conference and book your discounted place.
With my best wishes, and take care,
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