Message from the President - 29 January 2021

Russell updates members on PIMS and our current understanding of COVID-19 vaccinations for children, and shares the evidence he recently presented to the UK Parliament’s Education Committee. With a live Q&A on redeployment guidance and other member opportunities, this update brings you all the latest that you need to know.

It’s always nice to see the end of January but especially so this year. While the NHS is still under enormous strain, there are tentative signs that we are getting through the worst of this wave. We appear to have bent the curve and cases appear to be coming down – although only slowly and not everywhere. We are making speedy progress on vaccination – I know lots of you have been involved, and my experience is that giving vaccines to vulnerable people is a joy – very rare for anything COVID-19 related!

On the subject of vaccinations, we published a message for paediatricians this week. We’re all getting lots of questions about children so hopefully this provides a steer for these conversations. There was unwelcome confusion caused by letters to parents of clinically extremely vulnerable children – the reality as it stands is that we don’t have the data, although we expect to see some later in the year and trials are already underway.

As expected, with the rise in cases of COVID-19 in the general population, we’ve seen more cases of PIMS, the inflammatory condition that has affected some children and adolescents (well below 0.5% of those who have had COVID-19). This is expected to fall again in the next few weeks. Dr Liz Whittaker presented this week at a BMJ seminar which gives a very good account of what we’ve learned.

I’ve heard from many of you about the continued impact, especially on mental health, of lockdown on children and young people

I’ve heard from many of you about the continued impact, especially on mental health, of lockdown on children and young people. Karen Street, our Officer for Mental Health, is doing great work in the media and behind the scenes to keep these problems in focus. We’re all concerned about the huge problems we’re storing up for the young population. Last week I gave evidence to the Education Committee about the impact of the pandemic on children – it was good to speak with such a genuinely engaged group of politicians and experts. Clearly this will be a significant focus for us as paediatricians and for the College in the years ahead.

this is a good opportunity to hear about what the College is doing to support training during this time and to raise issues with our training leads

Following on from Hannah Jacob’s message to trainees and the College’s updated redeployment guidance, we’re running a live Q&A on 3 February. Do tune in if you can, and you can ask questions before the event starts (or during). I know it’s been a very tough period for many trainees, and this is a good opportunity to hear about what the College is doing to support training during this time and to raise issues with our training leads.

A reminder also that we’re recruiting for VP Education and Professional Development, and VP Training and Assessment. These are vital roles in the College, and they come with the opportunity to make a real difference to the specialty. And voting is open for chair of the Trainees’ Committee – six excellent candidates - if you’re a trainee, do use your vote.

That’s all for now,

Russell


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