An unnerving week, but some good news, too – President’s blog: 16 July 2021

Our wonderful festival of sport ended on a sour note, says Camilla, but a child's brave remark brings hope. There's profound disappointment too at the recent UK government decision to reduce overseas aid. But, we’ve seen some good news for clinicians in difficult cases and for our academic journal.

I am sure that I am not the only one who has felt quite unnerved and a bit unsettled by some of the events we have witnessed over the last few days. What began as the most wonderful festival of sport with the Euros and Wimbledon ended on a sour note. This wasn’t because the England football team lost at the Euro 2020 final – I think most of us are proud of their incredible efforts, camaraderie and genuine sportsmanship.

However, somehow this was clouded by the extraordinary tirade of racial abuse some of the players have had to endure. Language and insults were used on social media that I simply do not recognise, and a strength of hatred and bigotry that shocks me. It’s a rude awakening to realise that there are people in our society that have such a different perspective on life and for whom it is acceptable to throw racist abuse at a group of brave, committed young men who have collectively done more for our society than most of us will ever do.

Marcus Rashford is someone who particularly has made his voice heard with regards hunger in school children – but many of the other players have impressive track records engaging and supporting communities.

It was one of those incredible moments when one child bravely encapsulated everything we feel

Just when my spirits had really dipped, the BBC News visited Bukayo Saka’s primary school in Ealing to gather the children’s feedback. A small group of 8 and 9 year olds were interviewed and one little boy stepped forward to describe not just his pride in going to the same school as Saka, but, unprovoked, to state how disgraceful the racist behaviour of some fans had been and how bad that made him feel. It was one of those incredible moments when one child bravely encapsulated everything we feel and left me thinking, if that little boy represents our future, we’ll be OK!

Sadly, another reason why I have felt disappointed this week is the decision by MPs to support the UK government decision to reduce the Overseas Development Aid (ODA) to 0.5% of GNI (from 0.7%). This will make a negative difference overnight to programmes of work around the world, particularly to support women and children. It will impact on our RCPCH Global work in a number of countries – points I made in response to the parliamentary debate. I trust that you know that we have done as much as we can to persuade, cajole and argue about the importance of maintaining the UK’s role as a leader in global health. This is bitterly disappointing news indeed.

There is some good news, though! Towards the end of last month, the High Court (England and Wales) ruled that Reporting Restriction Orders, which prohibit the naming of clinicians involved in the care and treatment of two children, should remain in place. This is an important decision and one that the College has taken a clear stand on and provided input in the case. We firmly believe that clinicians must feel enabled to make decisions in the best interests of the child without the fear of being named publicly and that without this assurance high quality safe care for children will be threatened.

We firmly believe that clinicians must feel enabled to make decisions in the best interests of the child without the fear of being named publicly

And there was more good news too. The 2020 Impact Factors for journals were published earlier this month and both Archives of Disease in Childhood and ADC Fetal & Neonatal have recorded their highest ever impact factors – Archives 3.791 (up from 3.041) and Fetal & Neonatal 5.747 (up from 5.436). This is excellent news for our journals and serves to underscore how influential both are in the UK and internationally. Well done to Nick Brown and his stellar editorial teams!

Before I sign off this week – a small plea. The number of paediatricians completing the monthly BPSU reporting cards, even if they have no cases to report, is not as high as it could or should be. I know how busy everyone is – but hopefully it takes less than thirty seconds to complete the return.  Please don’t forget to respond to the monthly reminder – the data we collect via the BPSU is invaluable and has materially influenced management of a huge range of diseases thanks to our collective efforts.

Summer seems to have returned in my part of the world. I hope you all get some sunshine!

Take care,


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