Message from the President - 6 November

Russell reflects on the importance of looking after ourselves and each other this winter. He highlights our position statement and meetings with senior NHS leaders on new surge guidance, along with our new and continually updated guidance on COVID-19. And, he thanks members and states next steps towards free school meals advocacy.

So here we are in November and close to the final furlong of a year none of us will forget. It looks like the NHS is already under significant pressure in England and Northern Ireland and we have a tough month ahead of us before we see the impact of the new national restrictions on the R rate and admissions. There is most definitely a sense of déjà vu and the short evenings and restrictions means it will be a tough period for many of us. I would encourage you to talk to colleagues, friends or family on those difficult days. Looking after ourselves and each other is going to be vital between now and early spring – after which I am optimistic that things will look, if not ‘normal’, a lot brighter.

It’s important that paediatrics is there for its primary purpose

Back in the here and now – I’m concerned about new surge guidance from Health Education England (HEE) which seems to suggest paediatric trainees should be redeployed to adult services. These concerns were raised to me and to other college officers and through the Trainee Committee. This is an example of where we can represent members in an effective way and I’m pleased to say that I met with senior NHS leaders this week to raise the issue, and we’ve published a position statement which expresses our concerns. While it’s variable across the country, so far this winter hasn’t been too bad in terms of pressure in general paediatrics. Clearly as cases rise, we’ll see more children and young people with COVID-19 or PIMS-TS. It’s important that paediatrics is there for its primary purpose this winter which is to look after children and young people.

I was delighted to see all the coverage and social media activity for our free school meals advocacy. It’s been astonishing to watch Marcus Rashford lead on this issue and I’m proud we did our bit to support the campaign. In the end, just shy of 3,000 paediatricians and child health workers signed up – amazing. Thanks to all of you who added your name to our collective action. Importantly though, the UK Government hasn’t really budged, and we need to keep the pressure on. In the very short term we’ll be writing to MPs soon and my colleague Max Davie wrote a really passionate piece for the BMJ about why this issue is important to us. Dr Julie-Ann Maney also wrote a brilliant article about what she sees as a paediatrician in Belfast.

Finally, our teams dusted off and updated a lot of our COVID-19 guidance this week. It’s a huge set of resources now (I remember in very early 2020 when it was a single page) and you’ll find all the topic areas and links here. How shielding, for example, will be managed in this second wave is one of the areas where we want to see an effective approach by policymakers. Needless to say, these pages are going to be updated on an ongoing basis to reflect latest developments and advice, so please do check them regularly.

That’s all for now,



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