Never a dull week – President’s blog

From the three days of NHS strike action to the spring budget, there has been a lot to react to this week. Camilla reflects also on our advocacy on migrant health as well as upcoming genomics webinars this month.
Dr Camilla Kingdon

Industrial action in the NHS

There’s never a dull week at the College – and this week has been no exception! For those of us working in the NHS in England we have had the unprecedented situation of the majority of our junior doctor and trainee workforce taking industrial action over a 72-hour period. We remain clear that the decision to strike is a personal and often very difficult one. No one makes the decision without a great deal of soul searching.

I was so impressed to see the planning that took place to ensure the safety of services and how much flexibility so many colleagues displayed in stepping up to support the work that needed to continue so as little disruption as possible was felt by children and their families. These are difficult times and the good nature and even humour I saw, was both impressive and humbling. A friend and colleague of mine was heard to mutter, Not only did I get my over-60 bus pass in the post today, I also slipped a longline into a 24-weeker on first attempt!

On a more serious note, we remain committed to urging the UK Government to come to the negotiating table to find a way through this crisis, and also to commit to publishing the long awaited NHS workforce plan. What we all so desperately need is confidence that there is a vision for an NHS that provides both outstanding and safe care, but also has a workforce that can thrive and feel invested in.

Spring budget

The Chancellor’s ‘Budget for Growth’ has provided some inclusions that are relevant to both NHS staff and also families. There are significant waiting times in the NHS and morale is a constant worry, so it was useful to see some movement around changes to tax and pensions.

I have always had the sense that solving the pensions issue would be hugely helpful, so this move that we have campaigned on is welcome, but on its own will not solve the deeper more systemic problems faced by paediatricians across the entire career course. There seemed to be little else in the budget that changes my impression and I recognise that what this means in the devolved nations is even more challenging.

Whilst positive to hear from the Chancellor that the workforce plan is imminent, we remain clear that this must be detailed and well-resourced. Our team has been through the budget in detail and you can read my statement.   

Advocating for migrant health

UK Government’s proposed Illegal Migration Bill has alarmed many paediatricians. Essentially, this Bill would give Government the power to remove anyone, of any age, entering the UK by ‘unsafe and illegal routes’ without any recourse to officially seeking asylum. We know too well that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children represent some of the most vulnerable children in society. We also know that they face untold risks – both before they reach the UK, but also once they are here.   

I am really delighted that our new Officer for Child Protection, Andrew Rowland, has hit the ground running by reiterating our position on this, reminding Government and us all that we have a duty, defined by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to protect these children. Andrew brings a wealth of experience both from the world of safeguarding but also children’s rights and so it was fitting that his first task has been to lead us in responding to this concerning development. I am really looking forward to working with Andrew and welcome him to the College.  


The College is celebrating March as the ‘Month of Genomics’ and we have two interesting webinars. On 24 March we’ll focus on how clinicians can be supported to develop their confidence in genomic practice, and on 27 March the session addresses the who, what, how of genomic testing. This important emerging area of our clinical practice may leave some paediatricians feeling bewildered so please join us to improve your knowledge and confidence.

Strength in numbers

As ever, there is always good stuff happening and it feels more important than ever to be reminded of that. College membership has just surpassed 22,000, which is an all time high.

I am thrilled by this news – but also very conscious that we need to continue to strive to serve our members both here and internationally. We can only do that if we engage actively with our membership and continue to be sensitive to how we can best support paediatricians and the wider child health workforce professionally.   

Appreciating kindness

Finally, on a more personal note, I have been reminded in the last week, once again, about the importance of kindness and how small acts of kindness go a very long way. I returned this last weekend from South Africa where my 90-year-old father very recently passed away after a long and fulfilling life. The texts, emails and messages I have received from so many friends and colleagues have really stopped me in my tracks. Each kind thought or word of encouragement has helped me and meant so much.

These small acts really matter, and this experience has reminded me again how, despite all the difficulties around us and the sense of doom and gloom so many feel, when we reach out to one another in kindness, the impact is enormous.   

With my best wishes and take care 


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