When I was a trainee, I always believed that my primary goal as a paediatrician was to be a children’s advocate by supporting them in improving their health and wellbeing. It all started when I attended one of our College events ‘Influencing the NHS: Advocating for CYP and child health professionals’. I left positively influenced. This was when I understood the need for making a child health policy shift from national to local levels.
Personally I think this role highlights and recognises that leaders exist at all levels, as now I feel like an effective learning leader.
Since becoming an RCPCH Ambassador, I have not only been able to create new professional connections outside the hospital, but by learning about good practice across the nation, now have the space to think about what should happen next in my region. Personally I think this role highlights and recognises that leaders exist at all levels, as now I feel like an effective learning leader.
I remember when I attended the ‘Introduction of the RCPCH Ambassador’ event, the first slide was like a bit of a history lesson. It was about the NHS organisations which the College frames around. Quite soon I was able to conceptualise the NHS structure; where I stand as an RCPCH Ambassador and how to engage within. While the College is good at national level, it is less able to ensure CYP needs are represented at a local level. We all agree an upward flow of information is important, so that our local plans can be fed into national strategy and planning. This is where RCPCH Ambassadors come in! We can provide this clinical leadership supported by the College.
Now, I would like to share some of my personal experiences as the RCPCH Ambassador for BLMK- ICS (i.e. Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes):
- I regularly attend the fortnightly resilience meetings, set up with the Clinical Director’s from the three trusts within the BLMK region. My role in these meetings is to share examples from the College on how new strategies can be developed in light of COVID-19.
- I presented the 'Epilepsy 12' organisational audit report, in the 'Epilepsy Workshop'. The aim of the workshop was to map our current service provision for CYP presenting with Epilepsy against the NICE guidance standards.
- I worked with the Clinical Lead ‘GP Retention and Development’ in resurrecting the GP symposiums. We recently delivered our first virtual joint teaching sessions by local paediatricians from across three trusts.
- As a process of youth engagement in shaping our service delivery, we are working with the Young Healthwatch, Central Bedfordshire in co-ordinating the ‘15 Steps Challenge’. We had scheduled a visit with youth volunteers in May 2020 but unfortunately this was postponed due to the pandemic.
- Following discussion with the ‘Medical Committee Chair’ at the College, we are now working with our CCG-Digital lead to be a part of the NHS-X pilot, on introduction of ETPS (Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions) at the hospital end.
- We are currently in discussion with the NHSE-CYP Transformation Board. We are hoping to submit our application to be a model in the 'Integrated Care Pilot’ project, to join up care between acute hospitals set-up and the Children’s Rapid Response Services.
I strongly believe there is now a growing need to establish a solid national advocacy curriculum that exposes paediatric trainees to social determinants of health and fosters skills to effectively develop and evaluate interventions that improve health outcomes. I take this opportunity to thank the policy team at our College in supporting me with this.
Be the eyes and ears of our College on the ground and speak up for the CYP needs and those of our fellow child health professionals.
Speaking from personal experience, leadership and child advocacy skills can be learned by being an RCPCH Ambassador in the same way clinical decision making skills are acquired through problem-based learning and experiences in our day-to-day training. If you are eager to learn how to be more involved in child health policy decision-making and child advocacy come join our RCPCH Ambassadors network. In literal words, be the eyes and ears of our College on the ground and speak up for the CYP needs and those of our fellow child health professionals.
Recruitment is ongoing, so if you’re a College member in paediatric training, an SAS doctor, consultant or retired, do take a look at the website and make your application.