Lasting impressions - President's blog

Camilla reflects on another successful RCPCH Annual Conference and invites you to save the date for 2024 in Birmingham.
RCPCH President Camilla Kingdon standing at a podium whilst speaking at Conference

It was such a thrill to see so many of you in Glasgow last week at the 2023 RCPCH Conference. Our early figures show that over 1,400 people attended in person and there were also many online.

For me, the conference always begins on a high note with the medical student prizegiving and drinks reception on the evening before conference starts. Every medical school in the country has a fully sponsored place at the conference and that meant that a sizeable group of undergraduates joined us.

I love it because it’s an opportunity to meet people who are considering a possible future career in paediatrics, who are brimming with questions and enthusiasm, and who then attend the whole conference. I found myself bumping into highly enthused medical students for the next three days, which was lovely!


It wasn’t just the medical students who were enthusiastic and energised. The conference programme was so varied and rich in content that there was a genuine buzz of energy around the conference venue, right up until 16:00 on Thursday afternoon when the conference came to a close. I am so grateful to Jonathan Darling and the RCPCH Conference Committee, all the countless people who organised and ran workshops and symposia, and the College staff who worked tirelessly to make the 2023 conference such a huge success. Our conference dinner was completely sold out and the rock ceilidh band had everyone swirling around, desperately trying to remember the steps despite a very crowded dance floor.

Our opening plenary speaker, Lord Victor Adebowale, left a lasting impression on me. We asked him to talk about the social determinants of health, as both poverty and health inequalities featured so prominently in the programme. He made the important point that every single person sitting in that auditorium was lucky – lucky because we all have jobs, because we aren’t living in a state of war, because we have food on the table, because we’d all had access to education and been enabled to further ourselves professionally. That made undeniable sense to us all.

And then, in his inimitable style, he said, “you are all too lucky to be pessimistic”. That sentence has really stuck with me. The more I think about it, the more I realise he’s right. He wasn’t denying that we are facing enormous challenges and that for many people it is really tough to feel optimistic and hopeful about the future. However, his point was that we really cannot be pessimistic, and stopping to reflect how lucky we are compared to so many millions of others around the world is a brilliant way to reframe how we think about how we tackle challenges and find our inner resources to approach the future.

Many of you reading this weren’t at the conference and we missed you! Next year we’ll be in Birmingham between 25 and 27 March. We’d love to see you there and promise you won’t be disappointed!

Independent review on disagreements in healthcare

In other news, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has been commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care to undertake an independent review of the disagreements that arise between families and healthcare teams in the care of critically ill children in England. The review team are undertaking a detailed literature review and are also keen to hear from professionals, both healthcare and non-clinical. They are really keen to hear from as many of us as possible so long as you work in England and have experience of disagreements about the care of critically ill children. There is a very short 10 minute survey which we’d love you to complete please.

RCPCH industrial action

Finally, I promised to keep you updated about the ongoing dispute between the College and Unite on staff pay. Talks are continuing as we try to bring this dispute to a conclusion, and there is unlikely to be any further news until the end of this month. We continue to review and update our website FAQs and colleagues may want to read our members briefing for a more comprehensive explainer of the situation. [Update, 30 June - Pay award agreed for College staff]

With my best wishes – and take care,


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