Professor Russell Viner, President of RCPCH said:
We are very concerned about the potential impact of COVID surge plans, set out in guidance from Health Education England (HEE), on our paediatric trainee workforce and patients we care for.
The guidance suggests that trainees may be redeployed, notably from paediatric respiratory, emergency, and intensive care medicine. We are concerned that redeployment will have a negative impact on children and young people, many of whom will have more acute needs during the winter months. The guidance also suggests that paediatric trainees may be used as support workers. It is unclear what this means.
While this is an issue for trainees, it is fundamentally about protecting and caring for our patients - children and young people.
We are all healthcare professionals, and of course we understand the need to support services within adult medicine for the difficult months ahead. However, HEE, Trusts, and Health Boards and Statutory Education Boards in the devolved nations, will need to consider how to protect child health during the winter, which is a demanding and difficult time of year for all paediatric services. Because of the surge, it is likely that more children will need care, but there is also a growing number of children who need treatment for other conditions – taking doctors away from paediatrics right now is not the solution.
It is our position that paediatric staff and space should not be redeployed this winter. We will liaise directly with HEE and communicate our concerns to the Academy.