Message from the President - 14 August

As we approach mid-August, Russell's address to members looks at the reopening of schools and our guidance on shielding. He also invites members to join the upcoming Q&A on our equality, diversity and inclusion action plan.

A bit of rain in the last 24 hours was extremely welcome after a scorching few days. I hope you’re all having a nice summer and have managed to take some time away from work.

We’re nearly halfway through August and we have a few important hurdles to clear before we face what will be a difficult winter. Clearly there is a major focus on schools, not least because pupils in Scotland returned to full time education earlier in the week (other than where flooding disrupted plans). The situation in England remains rather more frenetic than in other parts of the UK but I do believe we will get there.

... the important thing is that [local outbreaks] are managed, that local communities are supported and that governments have the right set of preparations in place

I’ve been doing lots of media these last few weeks talking about the evidence base around children and COVID-19 and pushing the message that hard choices mean we should make decisions based on a balance of risks. With my University of College London hat on, I was involved in communicating research published last week that modelled the effects of test and trace in the context of schools reopening

As a College we’ve avoided getting into the specifics of mitigations as it’s not our area of expertise. But test and trace is clearly essential to help manage outbreaks in the community. There will of course be outbreaks and some infection in schools; the important thing is that they are managed, that local communities are supported and that governments have the right set of preparations in place.

Shielding is another issue that we’ve continued to work on very closely. We were all delighted that the nations’ CMOs adopted the guidance from the College on clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) children and young people. It is now the responsibility of paediatricians to look at our patients who are on the current shielded patient list and to talk to families and children who are no longer clinically extremely vulnerable.

Shielding advice is currently paused but, if it were to restart, we need to ensure we don’t cause harm by keeping children isolated and unnecessarily away from school and other activities. Similarly, those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should remain on the shielded patient list. Please refer to the RCPCH guideline for advice on those who are CEV and also for advice on how to add and remove patients from the list. 

Last month, we published our new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, which sets out what more the College should do to better reflect the breadth and diversity of members in our voluntary roles. Log in to join the live Q&A taking place this coming Thursday – it will be great to hear your thoughts.

Finally, thanks to all of you who let us know your concerns around vulnerable or at risk children since my message earlier this month. You drew our attention to a very wide range of issues, and we are sifting through these now. I will report back on what we heard from you in due course but, in the meantime, do please feedback to us on our form if you haven't done so already.

That’s all for now. Have a great weekend.


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