Message from the President - 8 January 2021

We’re nearly one year into the pandemic and there are immense challenges in the coming weeks. In his first blog of 2021, Russell shares important guidance, new alerts and College position statements.

I wish we were starting 2021 on a happier note, but we are facing an immense challenge in the weeks ahead. We’re nearly a year into the pandemic, and I know first hand that many of you are exhausted physically and emotionally. Significant parts of the UK health system are under immense strain and as ever it is people on the ground who shoulder this burden.

We know that our trainees are having an especially tough year with redeployments and severe disruption in terms of training. My colleague David Evans has written here about trainees and redeployment during the pandemic, including what it means for trainee progression and how to raise concerns. For those who are struggling heading into this weekend, I am desperately sorry that you’re going through this again. 

I know many of you have already had a first-dose vaccination. I spent some time over the break vaccinating healthcare workers, and it was probably one of the most uplifting experiences of the year. The rollout of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will gather pace this week and we should be motoring along nicely by the end of the month. And as I write, even further renewed hope as the Moderna vaccine has now been approved for use in the UK. NHS England published guidance yesterday on the vaccination of frontline health and social care workers. And here’s information for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Be the change you want to see – if you’re interested, go for it. The College will support you every step of the way.

In College news, elections for the Trainees’ Committee Chair will open on Monday. We have six exceptional candidates for the role – keep an eye on social media for details next week. We’re also pleased to open applications for two Vice President roles; education and professional development, and training and assessment. These roles are vacated by Camilla Kingdon who will be my successor, and David Evans – who I was thrilled to see awarded an MBE in the New Year honours. Huge thanks to both for their incredible work these last few years. These are vital roles. I’ll be very frank and say that I really would like to see fewer people who look like me (white and bald) go for senior positions at Royal Colleges. Be the change you want to see – if you’re interested, go for it. The College will support you every step of the way.

In other news we are again capturing how services are affected every week, in our Impact of COVID-19 on Child Health Services study. You can read more and register to view the data so far here (and please check that your organisation is submitting). We’ve also updated our ethics framework for acute paediatric settings.

I’ve also been asked to flag a request that the BBC is carrying out a survey of the experiences of BAME doctors during the pandemic. If this applies to you and you’re comfortable taking part, you can access the BBC survey. It’s not a College activity but we’re happy to support the work.

Well done to our Officer for Mental Health Dr Karen Street, who sounded the alarm about increased admissions of children and young people presenting with serious eating disorders.

Finally, I was very sad to see the closure of schools in the second lockdown. Clearly, we are in a very dangerous place with community transmission and there were few good options left in order to get the pandemic under control again. We’ve always said that schools should be the last to close and the first to open and that position stands. We put out a statement over the break which reiterated the College position. I am very worried about the effects of this year on children and young people. Well done to our Officer for Mental Health Dr Karen Street, who sounded the alarm over the break about increased admissions of children and young people presenting with serious eating disorders. It will be incumbent on all of us, when we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, to help assess the damage and use our voice to advocate for policies that help repair the damage.

Sending you my very best wishes for the year ahead, 

Russell


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