Following on from my predecessor Dr Mair Parry I’m very pleased to take over the role as Officer for Wales at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. I live and work in Cardiff where I am a Consultant in General Paediatrics at the Children’s Hospital for Wales. I trained in Wales and New Zealand and previously worked in neonates too. My routine job is to cover the acute admissions and outpatient clinics for all children and especially those with allergies. It’s an honour to be able to represent my fellow paediatricians in Wales with whom I share a mission to improve children’s health.
The post of Officer for Wales means that I will:
- Chair an Executive Committee to exchange news and information with paediatricians across Wales
- Represent RCPCH members in our work on policy issues and in the media
- Attend the RCPCH’s central Council
- I will also serve as President of the Welsh Paediatric Society.
I’d like to pay tribute to my predecessor in this role, Dr Mair Parry. During her time as Officer for Wales, Mair led Wales’ work in designing and launching the State of Child Health report, which gave us for the first time a snapshot of child health across a broad range of indicators and crucially enabled us to compare the situation in Wales with that seen in the rest of the UK. Mair was particularly vocal on the issue of childhood obesity and during her time in post, we developed a series of policy recommendations to address this public health crisis and we’re now doing all we can to support the Welsh Government as it develops its obesity strategy. If this strategy is to have an impact, we need to see robust action on marketing junk food to children, using the planning system to place restrictions on the proximity of take-aways to schools and improving the data we gather on children’s weight before school and in adolescence.
Mair’s legacy means we’re at the heart of these debates in Wales. However, there’s much more to be done and I’m looking forward to working with colleagues and our external partners to make progress on the range of issues and recommendations made in State of Child Health. I’m particularly keen to see progress on children and young people’s mental health which I have seen growing during my time as a consultant paediatrician; and on the paediatric workforce, both because of the impact that rota gaps and unfilled posts have on the wellbeing of my NHS colleagues and because children who are unwell and vulnerable deserve the best possible care in a fully staffed service. We audited units recently to see how they’re doing in implementing RCPCH standards and our report makes it clear that workforce issues are complex and not yet solved!
There are several issues that matter to me personally, and are emerging also as significant child health issues in public debate that I intend to champion over the months ahead: inequitable provision of allergy services, for example, and children’s oral and dental health.
I’m looking forward to working with College staff and RCPCH members across Wales, along with our partners and stakeholders in the Welsh NHS, Welsh Government, other medical Royal Colleges and the third sector to meet these challenges. Our key message remains simple: child health matters.