As #RCPCH19 opened in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago, I was really gratified to be able to announce three new projects that went to the heart of what our College is about – and the heart of your concerns about working life in the NHS.
[Conference] is a time to inspire medical students and early trainees to come into paediatrics, but also to refresh and revitalise those in the thick of working lives
More about those further down. For my part, I felt that the RCPCH Conference and exhibition was fantastic – a great mix of inspiring plenaries, educational clinical sessions and networking opportunities, plus time to honour our great and good through the PAFTAs (national awards in paediatric training), College prizes and honorary fellowships. It’s particularly a time to inspire medical students and early trainees to come into paediatrics, but also to refresh and revitalise those in the thick of working lives.
And I think the Conference did all those jobs. A huge thanks to Camilla Kingdon, our VP for Education, and the College team led by Jo Howe. Camilla had been keen to focus the last day on the future of paediatrics – and this was a great highlight, particularly the plenary by our &Us young people.
This will be far more than a recruitment campaign... but will focus on keeping people in our profession long term
Near to the end was the Senior Fellows lunch – giving me a chance to meet old (some very old) friends and be reminded of how much retired paediatricians still can and do give to the profession and to child health. It makes the life of retirement look quite attractive - particularly the relaxed pace and the smooth faces (lack of stress they tell me; I believe it’s retirement deals on Botox).
The first of our new projects is our Careers Campaign. Recruitment and retention of healthcare workers is the biggest challenge the NHS faces in the next five years – and you tell me frequently that this is a massive issue affecting paediatricians across all grades in all parts of the UK. That’s why Conference saw the kick start of an intensive new programme by the College to identify the concerns and help address these recruitment and retention problems in all four nations. This will be far more than a recruitment campaign (although that’s a major part) – but will focus on keeping people in our profession long term. It was wonderful to see so many of you at the lunchtime workshop to help us shape a fresh campaign. Your views matter. If you haven’t yet had a chance to have your say in our ‘Why Paediatrics’ survey, please share your thoughts. We’ll also be doing more engagement over the coming weeks, so keep an eye on the RCPCH website or email if you want to find out more: email@example.com.
The second was our Equality and Diversity Panel. You may remember me writing in previous blogs and on social media that I feel strongly that we need to do more to ensure that the College reflects the diversity of its members. Some of you have challenged us on this – and I agree we need to consider what to do differently. We have done relatively well over the past on gender, but our senior officers do not reflect the diversity of our UK membership. We have set up a panel to examine equality and diversity across our Trustees, Council, Officers and committees, co-chaired by a paediatrician (Bhanu Williams, our International Officer) with an independent lay co-chair Ben Summerskill, formerly of Stonewall. They will consider the full range of diversity, not just visible aspects, and report to us by the end of 2019. Thanks to those who came to the introductory session at Conference. We will be able to share more information about the panel and how it will work in the near future.
The third project was Paediatrics 2040, which wasn’t entirely new but Conference was its first major outing. This is a wide lens look at the challenges and opportunities that face us over the next 10 to 20 years and to work out how we can best respond. We want to hear from every College member and fellow as part of consultations on this over the next two years.
There had been a rising sense of optimism and hope throughout
The three days of Conference is pretty full on for College Officers. You are ‘on show’, naturally, and you have to wear the College medallion so people know who you are; people come up to say hello a lot, which was lovely and a nice opportunity to meet a lot of members and fellows; also people you don’t know talk to you in the loo, which was unexpected. The President in particular gets wheeled out for as many sessions as possible, providing endless opportunities for me to say something banal but hopefully occasionally hitting the mark with something sensible.
But although tired, I left Conference full of hope. There had been a rising sense of optimism and hope throughout the event. A feeling that change might just be in the air for our profession.