Message from the President - 28 August

Russell explores workforce retention and announces future plans at RCPCH, including our first Officer for Retention, an upcoming live Q&A on retaining the workforce and announces applications for the roles of President and Registrar.

A break from COVID in this edition as I’d like to share details of our paediatrics recruitment campaign, and let you know about College elections.

The context for this year’s paediatrics campaign is a lot brighter in terms of fill rates. In England we saw a big jump from last year’s rate of 82.8%, rising to 97.46% in 2020. We had similarly solid fill rates in Northern Ireland and Wales of 93.75% and 95.83% respectively, and a very good showing in Scotland. Amid the wider stress and tumult caused by the pandemic, this is really excellent news for the future of our speciality. It’s a welcome reversal of a worrying trend that has seen paediatrics struggle to recruit in recent years.

Recruitment is obviously vital for keeping our specialty healthy, properly staffed, and fit for the future. But part of the reason why it’s been tough to recruit in recent years is because retention is such a big challenge. The specialty is hugely rewarding but we know it can be challenging too. The various pressures on working lives have been building up for some time, which need urgent attention from policy makers in government and the NHS.

Last year we surveyed members in advance of our first recruitment campaign and in response to a question on what they considered the biggest challenges facing paediatrics, 58% said workforce and rota gaps, 35% said burnout, and 34% said work/life balance. These are systemic problems that the College is working to address with the help and guidance of members on the ground. In the coming weeks we’ll publish a retention strategy with a plan for change and we’ll appoint our first Officer for Retention to drive forward that work. I’m very grateful to all of you who’ve helped make a difference on this whether through volunteering time with the College, mentorship, advocacy and much else besides.

For now though, I am asking for your help. On Tuesday we’ll launch the retention part of our campaign and I encourage you to join our Live Q&A on retaining the workforce - log in to find out more. The week after that, we kick-start activity to drive the new recruitment campaign. We’ll have videos, blogs, FAQs and lots of content for prospective applicants. We’ve tried to be authentic and honest about the highs and lows of working in paediatrics. You can help us by sharing our content and using the hashtag #ChoosePaediatrics. Please do share your own perspective and get involved in the conversation – find out more here.

In other recruitment news, I am now entering the final stint of my tenure as President. I’ll save reflections for a later date, but I want to share with you that next week we will open applications for the roles of President and Registrar. If you want to make a difference in shaping and leading our speciality then please do consider applying. If you know of someone who you think would be great, then give them a nudge and encourage them to go forward. If you want to have an informal chat then please feel free to drop me or Mike Linney an email to set something up.

Speaking from experience, it’s a fascinating, challenging and endlessly fulfilling role. In the next few weeks, Mike Linney will let you know his perspective on his time as Registrar. These two roles are deeply interconnected, and the two post holders rely on each other immensely. I couldn’t have hoped for a more hardworking, engaging and committed person to work alongside these last three years.

That’s all for now,



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