Message from the President - 12 February 2021

Russell covers the resurgence of media coverage and questions about PIMS, sharing resources and a "how to recognise" PIMS webinar. On recent and upcoming elections he gives a warm welcome and reminders to vote.

Some good news to start us off – my warm congratulations to Dr Laura Kelly, who was elected as Chair of the Trainees’ Committee. Laura succeeds Dr Hannah Jacob, who rightly kept trainee issues high on the agenda for the College during her tenure. I also want to warmly welcome our new Officers for Research, a role which will be shared between Dr Will Carroll and Dr Sze May Ng.

In other elections news, we have a slate of 11 candidates for the posts of Vice President for Education and Professional Development and Vice President for Training and Assessment. It’s encouraging to see so many excellent colleagues put themselves forward and there’s more information here. Voting for eligible members opens on 24 February – please use your vote!

...we will want to advocate that any future legislation makes a positive difference for child health.

The big news of the week for the NHS was the publication of the White Paper. There’s a lot to digest, and when the formal parliamentary stages kick off in May, we will want to advocate that any future legislation makes a positive difference for child health.

Meanwhile, there was a resurgence of media coverage and questions last week about PIMS, the inflammatory condition linked to COVID. My colleague Dr Liz Whittaker, an international expert on the condition, spoke on behalf of the College about how only around 1 in 5,000 of children infected with COVID will go on to develop PIMS. We knew the most recent COVID surge in the population would lead to a small number of PIMS admissions. At the peak, there were about 12-15 children a day admitted to hospital in the UK but numbers are now beginning to fall again. Thanks to our greater knowledge of the condition, doctors knew how to treat these children quickly and most didn’t become seriously unwell, but there has been quite a lot of concern among the public. If you’re getting questions from worried parents, we’ve produced advice and guidance here (which is apparently one of the most visited pages on the College website). And if you wish to know more about how to recognise PIMS yourself, take a look at this webinar Liz and others delivered yesterday, as part of a series from North Thames Paediatric Network.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve worked with colleagues at the College and in the specialty to help develop a vision for the future of paediatrics. Clearly there have been a few unexpected events during that time, but I’m delighted that the launch event for Paediatrics 2040 is happening later in the month. It’s free to attend (all on Zoom) and you can sign up here. I’d love to see you there.

I have to say that I can see and feel the exhaustion and the frustration, in a way that is different from last year

I want to close by just recognising how difficult these last few months have been, I have to say that I can see and feel the exhaustion and the frustration, in a way that is different from last year. It has been a long hard slog, made harder in many cases by home schooling, separation from family members, and the fact that fun and distraction are sometimes hard to come by. I know for lots of people it feels like bearing the unbearable. Words of comfort, caring for each other are important – as is the knowledge that ultimately, science will save us. It’s been lovely to hear from so many friends and colleagues not in health, whose parents and grandparents have had their first vaccine shot. Thanks for all you’re doing and here’s to brighter days ahead.

That’s all for now

Russell


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