Spring seems to be taking its time arriving this year! There are a few blossoms out but wouldn’t it be lovely to see the sun and feel that winter is truly over? It hopefully won’t surprise you to know that we are already starting to think about next winter. After what most people acknowledge was the toughest NHS winter in memory, it’s crucial we learn the lessons, capitalise on the innovations and service improvements that made a difference, and start planning now so we don’t find ourselves in the perilous place we were in before Christmas. There is a genuine desire amongst the colleges, across the NHS and amongst politicians to address this.
Urgent and emergency care summit
On Tuesday 28 March, I took part in an event in the House of Lords organised by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine focusing on the key issues from this last winter and what medium to longer term solutions need to be invested in. I thought this was an important opportunity as all the other panellists were representing the problems faced by the frail elderly – for perfectly understandable reasons. My task was to articulate why the children’s urgent and emergency care pathway is different, how the pinch points are in different places and how most of the solutions we need are distinct – although all of the panellists highlighted the workforce crisis. Clearly there is no silver bullet but under strict instructions to share just three policy solutions, in addition to workforce, I focused on the need for enhanced clinical decision making in NHS111 and the need to address the huge impact of children’s mental health problems on our acute pathways, for example through embedded mental health leads in paediatric departments. Along with other College Presidents, I was pleased to share the panel with Wes Streeting MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, and to spot a number of MPs in attendance who I hope to continue the conversation with directly.
Working with charities
A similar theme was picked up by the Chair of the NHS Board, Richard Meddings, at a roundtable event on Wednesday 29 March. Several charities were also included in this invitation and were a very important reminder to me of the resources that exist in the charity sector and how collaboration beyond the NHS is vital. The College has some very valued children’s charity partners, and we must reach out to them as we prepare for next winter.
Our continued commitment to working for change
This week is a key moment for our Equality Diversity and Inclusion work at the College. Our publication of Working for Change: Two Years On reflects our commitment to you, as members, that we would meaningfully engage in this area and be prepared to be accountable for progress against a whole range of indicators. I sincerely hope you take the time to read this report. For the first time we can publish demographic data about our members and volunteers, as well as our staff. This is fundamental to being able to monitor inclusion and ultimately demonstrate change. If you have never completed the RCPCH diversity monitoring form – please do. We want everyone to be part of the change at the College.
Every now and then I meet a paediatrician who has a smart idea and is keen to put a lot of work and energy into developing a new initiative. At our most recent Specialty Board, John Rasquinha, a Paediatric Clinical Fellow working at the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board in Wales, came to present FOMOHub – an initiative to increase awareness of educational activities to all clinicians. FOMOHub.org is a single site to help clinicians find educational/CPD courses, conferences and webinars, filtered to their interests and availability to avoid the Fear Of Missing Out and is free to search and submit to! Event organisers can add their own listings via a submission form and have access to add and update directly, or create a feed from their own site.
The RCPCH has worked closely with the FOMOHub team to enable an automated data feed of College recognised CPD approved events appear on the site. Please consider sharing any educational events you are organising through the FOMOHub and feel free to contact either John firstname.lastname@example.org or James from the RCPCH Education Professional Development Team email@example.com.
RCPCH Annual Conference
Our 2023 Conference is now just two months away! Please don’t miss the Early Bird Booking which closes on 11 April. We have some very exciting plenary speakers lined up for you. Lord Victor Adebowale will open the conference, talking about the social determinants of health. We met Lord Adebowale recently to discuss his presentation and I can assure you that he’s going to set our conference on fire in his own inimitable style! Another name that is really exciting me, is Dr Maria Neira. Dr Neira is a Spanish physician and also the WHO Director for Environment, Climate Change and Health. I’ve had the privilege of hearing her speak a few times and her style, humour, energy and sheer grit makes her a truly powerful advocate for the health impacts of climate change. So, book your place at the Conference to avoid disappointment!
Illegal Migration Bill
I’ve mentioned our concerns about the Illegal Migration Bill in previous messages. We have understandably received messages of concern from some of our members on this topic, particularly from those who carry out health assessments for unaccompanied children and young people arriving in the UK, and who indicate they wish to seek asylum. These paediatricians may be given information by the young person about their journey and mode of entry, which will be recorded in the child’s medical records as part of the clinical assessment. I thought it would be useful to clarify what your obligations are in terms of recording the details of the journey and entry into the UK. It is unlikely to be relevant or necessary for the ongoing safeguarding and wellbeing for that child to have those details repeated in the following medical report, and the only obligation on you as a paediatrician is to record, in that report, the specific health needs that arise from the information a child or young person provides you with.
This week saw the Bill progress through a truncated Committee Stage (line-by-line scrutiny) in the Commons. As a member of the Refugee and Children’s Migrant Consortium, we directly briefed MPs on a number of amendments to address our concerns with the Bill. We’ll continue this as the Bill makes its way to the Lords where we expect push back on Home Office proposals.
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