Two weeks in politics - President's blog

Camilla looks back on two weeks of party conferences, detailing the opportunities she has had to advocate on workforce pressures and the Health Disparities White Paper. She also looks ahead to attending the Rwandan Paediatric Association annual conference next week.
Dr Camilla Kingdon

Politics seems to be featuring very prominently in our news currently. It certainly has been a big feature of my last two weeks as I attended my first party conferences – Labour in Liverpool last week, and Conservatives in Birmingham this week. It has been a fascinating experience and a genuinely good opportunity to engage with MPs and attend meetings hosted by the BMA, GMC and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. The message about our concerns about workforce pressures and the lack of a long-term NHS Workforce Plan was reiterated in every single conversation I was party to and all the colleges including the Royal College of Nursing were able to articulate how this ultimately translates into impact on patient care. There were some key opportunities to explore solutions, both short and long-term, in very useful discussions with a number of organisations including the charity sector. Fixing the current pensions issue was an obvious short term solution mentioned at every possible opportunity.

Health Inequalities

Another issue that I had the opportunity to flag at several meetings is our concern about the possibility that the UK Government will abandon the Health Disparities White Paper. This white paper is long awaited and is hopefully going to lay out how the Government is going to tackle the many social determinants of health – poor housing, lack of educational opportunity, child poverty, transport, air pollution and so on. There is real concern that this is no longer a priority and so we, along with over 155 members of the Inequalities in Health Alliance (IHA) have signed a letter to Dr Thérèse Coffey asking her to keep her commitment to tackling health inequalities. This chimes with our commitment to tackle health inequalities as much as we are able as paediatricians and I am really delighted with the positive feedback we are receiving about our recently launched Health Inequalities Toolkit.

Ride for Their Lives

Linked to the theme of health inequalities is our ongoing concern about the impact of climate change on children globally. COP27 is due to take place early next month and so we are having a fresh focus on this topic and working with others to highlight the specific impact on children. It was really lovely to join other paediatricians and paediatric nurses to cycle around London between five of the PICUs as part of the Ride for Their Lives campaign. There are other Ride for Their Lives activities so keep an eye out. I am so thrilled with the leadership role we have carved ourselves in being able to speak with authority about the impact on children of the climate emergency and this is very significantly due to the huge energy and expertise of our many engaged members.  

Our global work

Finally, I am very excited to be joining some of our RCPCH Global Team in a trip to Rwanda next week where we will represent RCPCH at the Rwandan Paediatric Association annual conference. We will use the trip to also visit a number of hospitals and clinical teams that we collaborate with. Rwanda has made some very significant improvements in child health outcomes and so I am really looking forward to learning as well as supporting our colleagues there. I think that our global work is one of the jewels in our crown and many of you have and continue to provide really important support for this work. Our Global Officer, Dr Sue Broster, is a guest on the latest episode of RCPCH Podcasts sharing lots of insights about the various projects the team are involved in – do check it out.

With my best wishes – and take care


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