A key part of the President's role? It's talking to members

Getting around the country (and away from the 'Westminster bubble') is one of Russell's top priorities, and gives him a chance to meet "some of the amazing paediatricians working across the UK".

As I sat on the train back from Wakefield last Friday (thanks Rajeeva and the team at Pinderfields for a great North East regional meeting), I reflected that one of the great things about this job is the opportunity – through necessity - of getting around the UK to meet paediatricians.

It’s a key part of the president’s role, and I particularly value it for keeping me in touch with what you are thinking about, worried about and hopeful about. It also gets me out of the dreaded ‘Westminster bubble’, particularly important as it gets decided whether our future PM will be Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt. Whilst there’s a lot that goes on that’s good in our working with Government and the NHS in England, and it's helpful to be able to challenge ministers face-to-face, it does me a power of good to breathe fresher air and meet some of the amazing paediatricians working across the UK.  

Getting around the UK keeps me in touch with what you are thinking about, worried about and hopeful about

I’ve particularly enjoyed the verve and Celtic hospitality of the Scottish and Welsh paediatric societies, the Irish Paediatric Association (which was Ireland v. Wales without the rugby). But I value just as much informal meetings with College members, such as in Northern Ireland and regional meetings across England. I’ve managed most of the England regional meetings in my first year in office – but if you’re reading this and I’ve not been to your area, please get in touch and ensure I get to you this year. 

The themes that you want to speak to me about at these meetings mainly focus on stress in the system, paediatric recruitment and rota gaps and other training issues.

But it’s not all problems. You tell me a lot about your hopes for the future and how you want us to change things for the better. The College doesn’t hold the levers to fix most of these problems – but we know how to influence those who do! I’ve written in past blogs about our work on each of these issues, particularly on recruitment (our new Careers Campaign) and on getting children’s services up the political and NHS agendas in each country. I’m sure I will come back to each of these in future blogs.

The themes you speak to me about focus on stress in the system, paediatric recruitment, rota gaps...

In other news this week, the GMC (General Medical Council) has published some concerning work on BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) doctors in their systems. This comes hard on the heels of their appropriate responses to the Hamilton Review on Gross Negligence Manslaughter. Leslie Hamilton’s review suggested a slew of sensible and much needed reforms to the way that the health services investigate deaths and very serious incidents, reforms that if implemented will go quite a way towards making the changes needed after Hadiza Bawa-Garba’s truly exceptionally bad experiences.

The GMC appears to be in a different place now, but we will do our bit to ensure the GMC carries through on its promises both in terms of fairness and equality and in terms of responses to Hamilton. In terms of ensuring our own house is in order, our Equality and Diversity Panel advertised for panel members and will begin work shortly.

'Til next month.