What a strange rollercoaster we have all been on since I last wrote to you just two weeks ago. The death of the Queen has touched each and every one of us and the opportunity to reflect on a very long life of service has made a huge impression on me and I know so many of you too. The now famous ‘queue’ seemed to reflect something about British society and the way total strangers became friends in the hours they stood together has made a surprisingly warm impact. I found it especially poignant seeing people queueing near my hospital along the Embankment and alongside the COVID-19 Memorial Wall with its many thousands of red hearts commemorating those that succumbed during the Pandemic. It has been sobering to think about how precious life is.
Launch of our Health Inequalities Toolkit
Life and health is indeed precious and never to be taken for granted. As paediatricians we know this only too well. It is therefore deeply troubling when we care for children where the wider determinants of health make a material difference to their chances of having happy and healthy childhoods. There is something doubly heart-breaking looking after families when you know that the odds are stacked against them simply because of where they live or how much they earn or their ethnicity. How do we tackle these complex issues? Do we have a role to play as doctors? The answer is a resounding YES!
I am so thrilled with our newly launched RCPCH Health Inequalities Toolkit! I would strongly encourage you to take a closer look. This is the most intriguing and empowering piece of work the College has undertaken for some time. The toolkit is the product of great collaborations between the College, inspiring paediatric clinical teams and RCPCH &Us bringing in the voice of the child. There is our College position statement, a practical toolkit and an opportunity to sign an open letter in each of the four nations to call on political leaders to take action on poverty and health inequalities. And as if this isn’t enough, there is an impassioned plea from over 500 children and young people who helped us with this work in a call “Everyone deserves the world”. I am so proud of this work and I know you will be too!
UK Government personnel changes
The UK political landscape has changed dramatically in the past few weeks with an entirely new ministerial team at the Department of Health and Social Care – and this includes a fellow paediatrician, Dr Caroline Johnson, who has been appointed to a junior ministerial position. The new Secretary of State, Thérèse Coffey, delivered her first statement last Thursday, laying out the UK Government’s plans for health and social care, summarised by the ‘ABCD’ acronym. There was a mention of a plan to reform the pensions rules but very little further information. We will be watching this with interest as we know that anything that can help support clinicians to stay in practice for as long as possible, is crucial. We published a statement in response to the Government’s proposals.
It is party conference season now and I’ll be attending the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool this week and the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham next week. Topics on my mind are the need for a comprehensive NHS workforce plan, how we can prioritise children as we tackle the monumental backlogs in both acute and community settings, and the impact of the cost of living crisis on our patients and their families. I will be using every opportunity possible at the party conferences to make the case for children and the children’s healthcare workforce.
Opportunities to get involved
Please can I draw your attention to two exciting opportunities at the College.
We have recently repurposed our Paediatricians in Medical Management Committee, to the Health Services Committee to better reflect the purpose and work of this important College committee. We are now seeking a chair of the Health Services Committee. This is a key role for us. The Chair will lead a committee which will help us influence and shape policy and practice with the goal of supporting the development of high quality, safe and sustainable health care services for all children. Please take a look and consider applying for this exciting role by 3 October.
Secondly, the Trainee Oversight Committee is looking for a new ePortfolio and Curriculum rep. This role is of key importance as we plan for the transition into Progress+ in 2023 and will ensure that the trainee voice is heard through this work. It's a very rewarding role, a chance to make a difference for trainees and is very well supported by College staff. View the RCPCH website for more details and to apply, also by 3 October.
That’s it for now.
With best wishes – and take care,
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