Lessons from the past to inform our future - President’s update

As the College looks to the future, Steve has been reviewing our archives and discovering what we can learn from the past. Also in this update, as whooping cough cases rise there is a call to download and display our vaccination poster. Plus, hear about lots of ways for you to get involved with your College.
Professor Steve Turner, RCPCH President

Our College is in a forward-looking phase at present. We are putting together our strategy for 2024-27 and plans are afoot to update our Facing the Future standards of care. How can we plan for the future with any precision? The historians among you will already know that lessons from the past can inform the future. So, I have been looking at our archives.

Minutes from meetings are not often seen as a cause for excitement. But it was really interesting reading British Paediatric Association (BPA) minutes from 90, 60 and 30 years ago.

Back in 1934 the BPA met in Windermere. This was an educational event, the precursor of our annual conference, during which consideration was given to including “distinguished paediatricians outside the British Isles”. The evening entertainment included a 16mm “cinematograph film of Mickey Mouse”.

Fast forward to February 1964, and Council decided to reconstitute the mental health committee “to review the paediatric aspects of mental health”, acknowledged the education committee’s article on “Careers in Paediatrics” and was also invited to a Ministry of Health Conference on Maternity Services. So, emerging resonance with 2024. The January 1994 minutes have some very familiar topics including physical punishment of children and purchasing an integrated computer system.

So what? Well throughout these 90 years the College (and formerly the BPA) has provided education and a community for paediatricians. Many of the issues we face today are similar to challenges seen over the last few decades, and future planning can be made with reasonable assurance for training, education, advocacy. What is constantly changing are conditions and treatments, how the NHS works for patients and what our members expect from their working life. And to keep on top of these aspects (especially the latter) we need to hear from you. Many thanks for taking the time to fill in surveys as they arise (more on this soon). You can also contact us at enquiries@rcpch.ac.uk to get involved in your College.

Officer opportunities

Please can I draw your attention to the role of Officer for Ireland which is currently open for recruitment. I used to be our Scottish Officer and know the importance of having a voice of our members right across the UK. Our Nations Officers play a pivotal part in speaking for members and driving forward our mission and objectives.  

The College is also currently looking for an England Area Officer for South, who will represent Kent Surrey Sussex, Thames Valley, South Western and Wessex. England Area Officers represent the views of members in their area at Council.  

Please consider applying for these important roles if you are eligible.

#WDYCD4Y What Does Your College Do for You? Introducing our Consultant and SAS Doctor Job Planning Toolkit

Planning is essential in organising paediatric consultant and SAS doctor jobs. Job plans not only ensure high quality service for infants, children and young people but also support working and wellbeing. Our workforce and careers team have created a handy toolkit for consultant and SAS doctors that takes you through the entire process from preparation to annual review covering objective setting, SPAs, on-call and flexible working. Download the guidance.

Cases of whooping cough are rising... can you display our poster?

Please can I share the resources we’ve developed in response to the rise in cases of whooping cough. The number of cases is still rising. Vaccination results in immunity within two weeks. Our poster (in English and Welsh languages) outlines the symptoms to look for and encourages vaccination. Download and print to display in your health service.  

Our analysis of general election manifestos

The UK General Election draws ever closer and last week saw political parties publish the manifestos they hope will capture the attention - and votes - of the UK electorate. Our Vice President for Policy, Dr Mike McKean, has analysed what these might mean for child health and the NHS workforce in a new blog. It’s well worth a read for all the key points. If you want to find out even more, then you can contact your local parliamentary candidates. We’ve made it easy for you to ask your local candidates these questions through our e-action tool:

Ask your local candidate

Advocacy from the College this week

This week the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published research exploring the impact rising hardship is having in classrooms and primary and community healthcare settings across Britain. We have issued a response to this report and have once again engaged with all major political parties to make tackling child poverty a key priority ahead of the upcoming election.

Coinciding with Clean Air Day, the 2024 State of Global Air Report has just been released – see our response. This shows that air pollution is now the second biggest killer globally. As paediatricians we have a powerful voice to advocate for the right of children to breathe clean air – join us next week for the first of our new series of webinars on air pollution and child health. Our Officer for Climate Change Helena Clements will be in conversation with our past president, Camilla Kingdon.

And finally…  

The NIHR Research Delivery Network is seeking to appoint a National Specialty Lead for Children. Please review the candidate brief (PDF) to learn more. Applications are particularly welcomed from out-of-hospital services, including mental health, social care or primary care. The deadline for applications is Monday 1 July.

Best wishes all round,


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