This time of year makes me think about sharpening my pencils and taking a deep breath as I consider the academic year ahead with all its challenges. It’s also that time of summer when I dither around in the morning wondering if it’s really warm enough to cycle to work in just a t-shirt or if it is actually time to stop pretending and get the thicker layers out! This year I find myself far more distracted by the problems I see around me than I would usually be. It’s impossible to ignore the apocalyptic scenes from Pakistan where vast swathes of the country are covered in water and the plight of women and children, in particular, is chilling. I cannot ignore the eye-watering predictions of how our gas and electricity bills are going to rise, nor can one fail to think about how schools are going to keep children warm this winter and how families less fortunate than many of us will feed their children and heat their homes. At work too we know that this is likely to be a very difficult winter – after an already very difficult summer.
We can still make a difference
Each of us copes in different ways when times get tough. Most of us have learnt over the years about how to ‘dig deep’ and keep going. But let’s not kid ourselves – even the most resilient amongst us has finite inner resources and this coming winter we are going to need to consider deeply how to look after ourselves – as well as each other. I was having a heart-to-heart conversation with an inspirational colleague about this topic this week. I confided how tough going it can feel and how difficult it can be to remain optimistic and feel like you can make a difference, in such challenging times. She reminded me of the line from the wonderful musical Matilda – “A storm can begin with the flap of a wing, the tiniest mites have the mightiest sting”! I love those lines and I hope they put a smile on your face, as they did mine! Any contribution we make, no matter how small, can make an impact. So don’t lose hope in the face of huge difficulties – we can still make a difference.
Fitness to practice determinations
Many of you have contacted me and the College over the last few weeks to express your concern about the implications of recent MPTS decisions. I think it does raise important and concerning issues for us all particularly about wider system pressures and responsibilities of individual clinicians in their professional practice. It is worrying if an individual doctor can be held accountable when things go wrong without the highly pressurised surrounding clinical environment being substantially taken into account. Every one of us knows how very busy and short staffed our work environments are and how increasingly complex many of our cases can be. Every one of us seeks to deliver the highest quality of care for all our patients. We all want to work in an environment that is open and honest when care could potentially be better and we all want a culture of continuous learning to be upheld. The College has published a statement this week and I have also written formally to the GMC to seek a discussion about how it is taking the clinician’s wider environment into account, which is so important as we head into a difficult winter. More information to follow.
News from our CEO
Our College Chief Executive Officer, Jo Revill, will be leaving her role after over four years in the organisation. We are extremely grateful to her for her huge contributions to the College, particularly in steering the organisation through the very challenging times posed by the pandemic. Her work has made an important impact at RCPCH and also more widely across the child health charity sector. We are now actively seeking a new CEO to step into this post and I will keep you appraised of how we progress with this. Please rest assured that we will have as smooth a transition as possible and business as usual at the College will be maintained.
Officer for Health Improvement
I am delighted to welcome Dr Helen Stewart to the role of Officer for Health Improvement. She takes over from Dr Max Davie who made many important contributions for which we are very grateful. This is a very important role as there are a huge number of crucial areas of health improvement that are now priorities – from mental health to obesity, falling vaccination rates and a whole range of social determinants of health. She comes with a strong track record of work in this field in South Yorkshire and I am thrilled she is joining our College team.
Senior Member and Fellow Representative
One of the greatest personal delights for me at our recent College Conference was to see how many senior College members came and actively participated in the conference programme and joined in all the social events too. Retired paediatricians are a group who have huge amounts to contribute, and we need them more than ever as active College members. This group is led by our Senior Member and Fellow Representative – currently Dr Kevin Windebank who has really raised the profile of this group and done significant amounts to build on the strengths of our Senior Members. Kevin’s term will shortly be up and so we are looking for a new Senior Member and Fellow Rep. The advertisement will open on 12 September and I strongly encourage any retired Member or Fellow to consider applying.
RCPCH receives top spot on climate change action
Yesterday, the inaugural climate change and health scorecard was published in the Journal of Climate and Health, which assessed how UK professional and regulatory health organisations are doing in their commitments to tackle the climate and ecological emergency. Eleven organisations responded to the survey and I am delighted to share that RCPCH have achieved the highest score. It’s real testament to the whole College approach we have taken to tackling climate change head-on, and highlights the success of our dedicated climate change action plan which is central to the organisation. It is also a moment to celebrate the hard work of our climate change working group, a group of around 80 passionate College members who have been working with us for the past 18 months to drive forward our climate change activity. We are so encouraged to see that we have done well, but this is only the beginning. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together as a whole organisation in the coming years.
That’s it for now – take care.
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