I spent last week at a remarkable event in India which brought together 8,000 paediatricians from around the world for the combined International Paediatric Association (IPA) and Indian Academy of Paediatrics 2023 congress. I was joined by Mike McKean, our Vice President for Policy, Jonathan Darling, Vice President for Education and Professional Development, and Rob Okunnu our Chief Executive Officer (as captured in the photo above!).
It was a truly inspiring event, meeting new people, reconnecting with old friends and colleagues and celebrating our combined efforts to improve child health outcomes globally. The highlight for me was an all-day workshop focusing on agreeing how to move forwards to improve global newborn health outcomes. There is something so inspiring about hearing paediatricians from dozens of different countries, along with neonatal nurses, midwives and even an obstetrician who brought some unique perspectives to the discussion, all sharing ideas on how we move from defining the problems to action. There was brilliant representation from Sub-Saharan Africa who face the greatest challenges, and their perspectives on how to improve breastfeeding rates and speed up initiation of kangaroo mother care after preterm birth made me realise how much we all have to learn from each other. Sometimes getting away from home helps give one fresh perspective and I certainly found my week in India hugely enriching.
Hosting the next IPA
RCPCH will be hosting the next IPA congress in June 2025 in Glasgow. It will be our opportunity to put together an excellent scientific programme alongside an exciting social calendar, by collaborating with paediatricians from around the world. Jonathan Darling will chair the Conference Scientific Committee, and I will be Congress President linking up with the IPA. I think we will learn a huge amount from this venture – and we also have an opportunity to make our mark, especially by weaving into the programme the issues that matter so much to us, such as equality, diversity and inclusion, and also the central role of the voice of the child. I can’t wait to see the impact RCPCH&Us makes on the international stage in Glasgow!
Next steps on industrial action
I wrote in my previous blog about how important personal choice is and that our junior doctor and trainee colleagues had every right to exercise that choice in the recent BMA ballot. Now that the results are out, we are left in no doubt as to the extent of the feelings amongst this vital part of our workforce. As a College, we are here to support all our members in these challenging times. I very much recognise what an anxious time this is for us all. We will keep adding to our resources because we know that some of you may have worries, particularly about training. Ultimately, we all want an NHS that provides outstanding safe care to us all, and specifically children. The College will not step away from our responsibility to continue making the case for investment in our workforce.
College staff pay
We have also issued a statement and FAQs for members following the news from UNITE that they will be balloting College staff members for industrial action following a dispute on pay. The ballot closes at the end of March and we’ll be in touch once we understand more. The College has already started preparing to mitigate the impact of potential strike action on its paediatric members, and to minimise any disruption for staff too.
St David’s Day
I do hope our members in Wales are surrounded by vases of bright yellow daffodils following St David’s Day celebrations earlier this week. Our annual St David’s Day conference next week will no doubt present on an outstanding range of learnings with opportunities to connect with colleagues. I hear there are still tickets so please be sure to book your place! And I wrote earlier this year to wish my friend and colleague David Tuthill all the best as he came to the end of his term as Officer for Wales. The advert for his role is now live and I would really encourage colleagues to consider this important senior leadership role at the College.
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