There’s nothing like the start of a new school year to give one’s spirits a small lift at the thought of the new opportunities and interesting new colleagues. Let me begin my message by welcoming all the new doctors who have joined Paediatrics in the last six weeks – either into our specialty training programmes, or to work in our trusts as very important members of our teams. Every single one of you is welcome and I sincerely hope that you are settling into working in our specialty. Please make sure you have a look at all the resources on the College website and be sure to know that we are all here for you.
The disruption from the pandemic presents opportunities that we simply cannot miss.
We are at a very challenging stage. I know very well that many have not had a break over the summer – or, if you did, that it was overshadowed by a sense of fear and trepidation about the size of the workload that exists for us all currently. We are in extraordinary times and each of us is being pushed hard. As a College, we are using every single opportunity to firstly highlight the pressure all the child health systems are under, and secondly to flag ideas that we have to address the problems. We must use the NHS recovery agenda to consider innovative new ways of working and think about how we might use the child health workforce in different ways – otherwise, we will find ourselves in these same overstretched situations in future years. The disruption from the pandemic presents opportunities that we simply cannot miss. So, while we are working with colleagues in other Royal Colleges and the NHS to specifically focus on the 2021/22 winter pressures, we also need to be thinking longer term and using as much leverage as possible to engineer meaningful ways of working differently, maximising the integration agenda.
We will be proudly launching our RCPCH Strategy 2021-24 on Monday 27 September
We will be proudly launching our RCPCH Strategy 2021-24 on Monday 27 September. It won’t surprise you to know that our key ambitions align very much to addressing workforce pressures, supporting our professional communities, advocating for child health within the integrated care systems, using all the advantages that digital and innovation can offer us – and so much more. Please take a look – we have a podcast as a teaser for what you’ll see next week and there will be lots of online resources to follow, providing you with both the highlights and the details of our strategic ambitions.
I have had a busy week! It was an enormous honour this week to have the opportunity to meet our royal patron, HRH the Princess Royal. Jo Revill, our CEO, and I were invited to an audience with her which gave us a very good opportunity to explain how the pandemic has changed the way we work, impacted our Global Health programmes and, most importantly, so significantly changed the lives of the children and young people we care for. The Princess Royal was very interested indeed and had some really insightful reflections about some recent visits she has undertaken to schools and the conversations she has had with groups of high school children. And then on Wednesday afternoon, I appeared as a witness at the Education Select Committee at the Westminster Parliament to represent the College’s views about the impact of the pandemic on children’s education, health and wellbeing. It was an excellent opportunity to focus on some of the details around how we arrived at our position supporting the vaccine rollout, what the practical issues are likely to be for taking consent for the COVID-19 vaccine, and what the balance of benefit and risk are. Professors Chris Whitty, Jonathan van Tam, Wei Shen Lim and Sir Keith Willett were also present which meant the entire subject could be discussed in huge detail, which I hope will be reassuring to those parents, children and healthcare professionals who have worries or unanswered questions, and insightful to those who have formed a fixed view one way or another.
Working at the College has been one of the best career decisions I have ever made, so please have a think about whether you might like to join us in our rewarding work.
Finally, two of my esteemed Vice President colleagues will be demitting from office next March. Nick Bishop (Science and Research) and Simon Clark (Policy) have worked tirelessly and are great colleagues and important members of our Senior Officer team at RCPCH. I am incredibly grateful to them both. Their positions will be open for nominations from Monday 27 September and I am hopeful that we will have a diverse field of interested paediatricians. If you have even the slightest tinge of interest, please visit our nominations page on Monday and take a look at the job description. I would be more than happy to chat to anyone who is interested in applying. Working at the College has been one of the best career decisions I have ever made, so please have a think about whether you might like to join us in our rewarding work.
With my best wishes – and take care
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