Research and audit data are the raw material for improving healthcare

We're flying the flag for more investment in developing research capabilities and capacity in our specialty, and we're providing the evidence-based resources needed to improve care for our patients. As VP for Science and Research, Nick explains more.

So, given this is the Science and Research VP blog, and in the light of the emerging tradition of sharing holiday snaps, it seems only reasonable to start with a PICO question, as follows:

P (population) – Vice Presidents/Senior Officers who write blogs for RCPCH
I (intervention) – picture of VP/SO on holiday, vs
C (comparator) – picture of VP/SO with (possibly cuddly) animal
O (outcome) - click rate on blog

Here is a picture of Mary Lake in Muskoka, Canada, with the view somewhat spoilt by the chap in the foreground.

Apart from going on holiday, what have I been up to? Well, I was able to spend some time with our President and the new Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, who also has overall responsibility for NIHR, earlier this week. We flew the flag for more investment in developing research capabilities and capacity in paediatrics and child health, with a focus on our “intractable issues” – mental health, learning disabilities, safeguarding and obesity. Professor Whitty is clearly keen to provide a level playing field for all specialty groups, but recognises the scale of need in paediatrics and child health. He particularly recognised that both existing consultants and trainees deserve support to develop and sustain research activity. A good start, and one that we will build on.

On that note, we have started to scope out what the existing trainee-led research networks are doing, and plan to work with the trainees to ensure that such networks cover every region. We will also engage with the Heads of Schools and ask them to help drive research opportunities and participation across their Deaneries. We are going to ask Regional Academic Advisors to take a more proactive role in mentoring, or signposting to mentoring, those trainees who want to take on research activities. Our surgical and anaesthetic colleagues have shown us the way here – trainee-led research networks in both specialty areas are getting research funded, done and published.

For those looking for a Fellowship opportunity, check out the Newlife Clinical Research Fellowship Award, which closes on 4 November. We'd also love you to participate in our child health research survey, open to consultants, SAS doctors and CCT holders, and tell us how we can support you.

The national audits are progressing well, with reports being submitted to and scrutinised by our funder HQIP (Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership). There is an obvious desire on the part of the funder to move from audit to impact, as had been the case for diabetes. The peer review process that forms the heart of the Diabetes QI initiative is time-consuming and hard work – so thank you to all who participate in the peer review visits and accompanying activity.

Also working within the Research and Quality Improvement Division are dedicated members of staff who are working on clinical guidelines, Paediatric Care Online, Medicines for Children, Invited Reviews, the BPSU, gathering workforce data, as well as quality improvement initiatives. All are doing important work, often unseen and unlauded, but combining to provide us all with evidence-based resources that we need to improve care for our patients. The overarching premise here is that research and audit data provide raw material that is translated into improved healthcare that makes a difference for children and families. My thanks to all of those undertaking this work too.

So, what is the outcome of our foray into PICO-land? We’ll have to wait a little while to find out how the figures have come out, but in the meantime, here’s our black lab Daisy, whose main research interest is – you guessed it – food; any food…