Ready for the year ahead - President's blog

Camilla’s heated gloves are on and she’s launching into the first update of what promises to be a busy 2024. With a general election on the horizon she sets out our role in ensuring children’s health remains a political priority. There are also details of the College’s brand-new Paediatric Patient Safety podcast series and a notice to look out for your email to complete the RCPCH 2024 Member Survey.
Dr Camilla Kingdon, RCPCH President

The last few days in London have been a stunningly beautiful start to 2024. Having said that, my new best friends are my heated cycling gloves! The blue skies are gorgeous, but my frozen fingers have necessitated charging up my amazing heated gloves and they’ve been a game changer this week. A very happy New Year to you all! I hope that you all managed some time off over the festive period and that despite the cold you are now ready for the year ahead.

New Year’s Honours

I am so thrilled that the King’s New Years Honours List included several colleagues, and others, who have made significant contributions to child health. The National Clinical Director for Children and Young People, Professor Simon Kenny, received an OBE. I’ve had huge pleasure in working closely with Simon and his team at NHS England over the last three years and his OBE is richly deserved for his huge efforts and steely determination to make the case for children’s services and improving NHS data to drive that process. Professors David Edwards and Matthew Snape were awarded MBEs for their significant research and public health contributions, amongst several others. As a College, I know that we all take collective pleasure in seeing colleagues acknowledged when they have put years of hard work into our common goal of improving child health outcomes.   

RSV vaccine planning

There is a suggestion from the public health surveillance data that we have passed the peak of this winter’s RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) season here in the UK. While that will bring relief to many, we are absolutely determined to keep our feet on the accelerator, calling on UK Government to push through the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommendation of a rollout of routine RSV vaccination. Time is of the essence if we want to make a difference to rates of RSV infection next winter and so we plan to continue our discussions with the various government departments needed to get this vaccine across the line. An RSV immunisation programme will pose logistical and workforce challenges and so the sooner funding is agreed, the better.

Patient safety podcast series

If you, like me, love a good podcast, you’re in a for a real treat! I’m very excited to announce the launch of the RCPCH Paediatric Patient Safety Podcast series. Following this week’s release of the first episode with Dr Peter Lachman on how to build a culture of safety in paediatric healthcare, episodes will be released every Wednesday for the next five weeks! As someone deeply committed to advancing patient safety, I am thrilled to help launch this transformative journey alongside esteemed voices in paediatrics. Our aim is clear: to prioritise the safety of our youngest patients and shape a future where excellence is the standard.

Each episode promises to be a valuable resource, exploring foundational principles and actionable strategies that will undoubtedly elevate the discourse around paediatric patient safety. This initiative aims to foster a culture of safety, challenges norms and champions excellence in paediatric care. I had the real privilege and honour of taking part in the final episode, along with the very inspiring Joanne Hughes focussing on learning from lived experience – this will be available to listen to on 14 February this will be available to listen to on 14 February. [Date correct at time of publishing; this episode is on hold while it is reviewed. More details will follow when available.]

RCPCH Member Survey

We are committed to understanding how best we can serve our membership which has changed a lot over the last few years. For example, we now have 25% of members living outside the UK and Ireland. To help us understand how to support you best, we will be emailing you a personalised survey link to your registered email address. If you don't receive the survey by 18 January, it will most likely be because you have not opted into surveys, so simply email to request a link. The survey takes 15 minutes to complete. This is your opportunity to share your thoughts and help shape the future of the College. To say thank you, you may also have a chance of winning a free in-person or virtual place at the 2024 RCPCH Annual Conference. We look forward to hearing from you.

A busy political year ahead

I have mentioned before how important we see the run-up to the next UK general election is for making the case for investment in a healthy childhood – not simply for the children we look after, but for the future health of the whole nation. For those who are interested, we have been using the RCPCH General Election manifesto to help us influence politicians of all persuasions and have a very busy plan for the next months including opportunities for you to get involved. The Labour Party have just announced their Child Health Action Plan and it is positive to see that they make mention of their intention to regulate vaping, invest in supervised tooth brushing, focus on reducing obesity and several other plans which we have been actively advocating for and which are outlined in our manifesto. Our role must be to make a clear case for the interventions that are needed to improve children’s health, influence all policy makers and then hold politicians to account for the promises they make.   

I sense that 2024 is going to be a busy year… lots to do with a laser focus on improving child health outcomes and supporting the workforce who delivers that care, day in and day out.

My very best wishes to you – and take care of yourselves.

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