Precious commodity of hope - President's blog

Camilla reflects on a week of the most significant industrial action ever taken by doctors in the NHS. She signposts the College's industrial action resources as well as reminding members of some opportunities to apply for mentoring and to feed into the GMC National Training Survey.
Dr Camilla Kingdon, RCPCH President

I hope that all of you managed some time off over the long weekend. It felt like such a treat to see those blue skies and feel the warmth of the sun. To celebrate Passover and Easter at the same time as Ramadan this year, made the holiday seem that much more important and whatever your faith, or indeed if you have no faith, the messages of hope and renewal seem timely.   

The precious commodity of hope

We all need to be able to hope in order to set ourselves goals and figure out where to go next. We also need hope to believe in ourselves – to believe that we can make a difference. It is my sense, as I write this during the most significant industrial action ever taken by doctors in the NHS, that many clinicians are losing their sense of hope. Each of us wants to believe that we can give our patients the very best care. Every doctor wants to feel they can invest in a career that will allow them to flourish and develop over their whole life course, to be enjoyed alongside whatever family or personal life they choose to have. Each of us wants to be treated with dignity and respect, and in return do the same for our colleagues and patients. When these needs are unmet, then it is easy to feel hopeless.   

I am certain, though, that we have an important opportunity to come together as a profession to navigate a path forward. I am frequently amazed at the incredible talent, ability and sheer grit that I come across in paediatric colleagues. We need to collectively work out how we can support all our different generations to flourish in medicine. We as a College support all our members to make their own decision about industrial action and it is our sincere hope that the UK Government makes every effort to bring the current action to an end. We will of course continue to review and update our resources on industrial action.

Reciprocal mentoring

Workplace culture is fundamental to how we experience work and whether we are encouraged to flourish or not. The College work on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is key to us enabling paediatricians to be more aware of inclusion and more able to celebrate diversity. I am thrilled to let you know that the applications window is currently open for members to take part in the next phase of our reciprocal mentoring scheme with Senior Officers. It is a good opportunity for members to have exposure to College Officers, giving them a chance to understand and influence work policy and practices; whilst allowing College Officers to appreciate some of the barriers and obstacles that others may face in the workplace. The nominations window is open until 17 April [now closed[

GMC National Training Survey

In a similar vein, the GMC National Training Survey (NTS) is open, until 4 May. Every year, responses to the NTS help the GMC, medical education bodies and employers to make sure that trainees and trainers are supported in their roles, and provides the evidence they need to act when concerns are raised. This year, new questions seek to understand the extent of discrimination and unprofessional behaviours in medical education and training. The data will provide insight in to how supportive, inclusive and fair environments can be fostered, and highlight any themes or issues that may need more attention.  

Youth vaping

As paediatricians, we have been watching the impact of vaping very closely and it is alarming to see recent data showing a steady increase in the number of school children who vape. It is also chilling to see how the e-cigarette companies are homing in on children with flamboyant marketing, bright colours and enticing flavours. We don’t yet know what the long-term impact of vaping is on children and so it is very pleasing to note the UK Government’s announcement this week of a number of initiatives to stop children vaping, including a call for evidence. More action and tougher regulation is needed but this is a start. It was also very good to hear Dr Mike McKean, our Vice President for Policy, being quoted by the Minister, Neil O’Brien, as he launched the Government’s plans to stop children vaping.

The Hewitt Review

RCPCH has been very supportive of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) in England, viewing integration of health, social care, education and the voluntary sector as being an outstanding mechanism for investing in childhood and supporting ways of preventing disease and promoting good health and wellbeing. RCPCH Ambassadors are key advocates on the ground, working with the leadership in each ICS to focus on children and ensuring their needs are not forgotten. We have therefore been waiting for the findings of the Hewitt Review with some anticipation. The Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt was commissioned to undertake a review of the ICSs and her report was published last week. I would encourage you to read our statement to understand how we can each work better and more effectively with our local ICS.

Tribute to Dr Janet Anderson

I don’t like ending my message on a sad note but I want to pay our collective respects to a remarkable colleague who passed away recently. Dr Janet Anderson was a paediatrician who has left her mark across the world. Tributes have been sent to the College from the paediatric societies in Sri Lanka and Ghana where she made such an impact, as well as from numerous individuals who knew and valued her. Our clinical exams benefitted hugely from her hard work, both in the UK and internationally. She leaves a wonderful legacy of a generous and kind woman who gave so much to so many, who was proud to be a general paediatrician, and who worked tirelessly throughout her life.   

With my best wishes and thanks to you all – and take care.


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