I’m just back from my escape overseas from where some of you may have seen me hosting part of the RCPCH conference; remote chairing would have been unimaginable last year but it’s worked remarkably well and I hope those of you who joined sessions got something out of it.
The second surge of the pandemic is now upon us. As well as my work as Registrar I’m a general paediatrician in south England and I know first-hand the mixture of dread and determination we all feel about the months ahead. We have been working hard at RCPCH to protect our services from redeployments and resource depletion this winter. Protecting services for children and young people is something that few disagree with in principle, but in practice we have a battle on our hands as pressure mounts again on critical adult services. This is not about us versus them, we are all doctors first and foremost, but we all know what it takes to get through even a ‘normal’ winter and it’s vital we hold the line where we can.
In better news I was pleased to see the Chief Nursing Officer state that vital supports for children including school nurses and health visitors will be protected from redeployment. We also have a national consensus, which we’ll work hard to ensure holds; that schools need to stay open wherever possible. Russell mentioned work we’re doing on schools and symptoms and testing, and we hope to publish more details on this in the coming weeks. I am especially worried about children who can’t get into their schools due to their health requirements, I know many of you are worried too. We have been working hard with Public Health England and Department for Education to try and resolve this and we hope to see progress soon. I know many of you are horrified that government refused to back the extension of free school meals for the school holidays. I am too and you can sign our open letter here. Please do share far and wide.
In non-COVID news the College published this week a vision for the future of our specialty. Paediatrician of the Future is designed to maximise the opportunities for every trainee to access the training they want and need. It’s a fascinating read and shows how far we’ve come together in making our specialty more flexible and hopefully a better place to be for the next generation of paediatricians.
News is now out about the candidates for your next President and Registrar. I’m delighted to see so many people involved in the process and as someone who’s been in the role of Registrar for the past three years, I’m excited to see what fresh leadership will bring to the College. It’s been a real labour of love for me, and while I’m very much looking forward to my retirement, it will be hard to let go and I’ll miss the many people I’ve worked so closely with at the College. These roles are incredibly important and have a big impact on the College and on our specialty – voting opens in early November and you can cast your ballot by post or online. Your vote makes a difference so do use your voice. Finally, we’re also recruiting for a number of Officer roles, and you can find the details here.
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