There’s something about the arrival of Spring that seems to lift spirits and energise people. I have been just amazed over the last couple of weeks listening to colleagues describing their plans and ambitions for this year across a whole range of different areas within child health. Never should it be said that paediatricians lack vision, drive and optimism. And so I thought I would use my Members Message this week to give you a glimpse into just a small sample of inspiring work that is taking place right now!
The needs of children caught up in the ongoing war in Ukraine has quite rightly led to a lot of activity at the College and much more widely. A huge shout out should go to Michael Griksaitis and his PICU retrieval team at Southampton Children’s Hospital, as well as Martin English from Birmingham Children’s Hospital and his Oncology team, who travelled to Ukraine to help evacuate 21 children with cancer and some of their family members to the UK for further treatment. This was a massive team effort with some important and very useful lessons learnt. Thank you all so much!
We are constantly responding to ideas and requests about further support and advocacy and have set up a College Oversight Group to manage this. We are refreshing the Supporting Ukraine webpage regularly and hope that the resources are useful. Already more than 30 paediatricians have used the iParl tool to write to their MP about the plight of Ukrainian children. In addition, we have specifically flagged our concerns about the safeguarding of Ukrainian children who come to the UK as part of the ‘Homes for Ukrainians’ scheme. While it is welcome that there will now be a requirement for each host family to undertake a DBS check, we believe a more proactive approach to protecting children will be necessary and more support for specific groups, especially unaccompanied children.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – our next annual update
Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion work continues at pace. We are proud to be launching our second annual report on 28 March – Working for Change: An update on our progress. We set out on an ambitious path two years ago and there is still a long journey ahead. The level of member engagement in this work has been really inspiring and we are indebted to the help and investment of time and effort we have received. I hope you will take some time to read our report. We want to celebrate our collective achievements but crucially want to be transparent and accountable for the work that still needs to be done.
Mental health leadership in paediatrics – join the webinar
Children’s mental health is becoming a bigger and bigger part of every paediatricians’ working life. This is recognised across the NHS and funding is now more readily available than before. This does not get away from the fact that many paediatricians feel under-skilled in this area and clinical services often feel poorly equipped to care for these sometimes very unwell children and young people. Paediatric mental health lead roles within trusts are going to be very important to support services and colleagues. Please join our webinar on mental health leadership in paediatrics on 30 March 13.00 - 14.00 to find out more. Dr Karen Street, RCPCH Officer for Mental Health, Dr Emma Blake, chair of the Paediatric Mental Health Association, and Dr James Dearden, consultant paediatrician and mental health lead, will talk about the role that paediatricians can play in supporting children and young people’s mental health, and the opportunities that mental health lead roles offer for paediatrics.
[This event is now past.]
New BPSU data collection platform launching soon
Many of us have quite fond memories of the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit (BPSU) ‘orange cards’ that would arrive in the post every month. These are now consigned to the history books and were replaced by a monthly email. The BPSU collects crucial information about rare diseases and is reliant on each of us completing the form monthly. To try and make this easier, there will be a new data collection platform, which is due to launch with a pilot programme on 4 April. The BPSU has worked with the University of Dundee Health Informatics Centre on this exciting new venture. It will be piloted with our study, surveillance of neonatal stroke, which runs from April 2022 to May 2023 (13 months of surveillance), with follow up until May 2025. Please support this important work. More information about the forthcoming platform, including FAQs are available on the RCPCH website.
Child Health Inequalities: A Hidden Pandemic
And finally – there’s an exciting conference coming up – Child Health Inequalities: A Hidden Pandemic. I am really pleased that we are collaborating with the Faculty of Public Health and the Faculty of Dentists to bring you a combined conference at the Royal College of Surgeons on 6 May. We have a stellar cast of speakers and workshops including Sir Michael Marmot, Professor Simon Kenny and Professor Ian Sinha. I am really looking forward to this event – please join me there!
I hope you are as enthused as I am by such an inspiring array of work taking place. Remember also to take a chance to enjoy the wonderful Spring sunshine!
With my best wishes and take care,
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