What the 2021 member survey results mean for the College

This week we publish the findings of our 2021 member survey, which we ran this past autumn. In previous years, the survey has often fallen during a quieter time of year as we take stock during summer and prepare for a new training year in September. However, last year the ‘early winter’ was already in full flow by the time we surveyed you, so we’re tremendously grateful that over 3,000 of you took the time to share your views with us.

The results of the survey make for interesting reading. It is disappointing that overall member satisfaction has dropped since 2020, but perhaps not surprising in the context of a continuous increase in pressure on frontline services and huge disruption linked to (but not always caused by) the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery of child health services.

When the College's Executive Committee met to reflect on the survey, we all agreed that the findings vindicate the approach we have set out in our 2021-24 strategy, that is: to deliver a compelling argument for better-funded child health services; to campaign effectively on issues that are impacting child health; and to redouble our efforts to support members here and now in delivering the outstanding care that you provide to children and families.

Archives of Disease in Childhood continues to be the most valuable of all the benefits and services we provide to members, as has been the case for many years. Hopefully, you are all now aware that we’ve changed how we provide access to the academic journal, extending access to 5,000 new members and offering both financial and environmental savings by removing print copies for those who are happy to have access online. If you missed any of the detail, I wrote a blog about this new era for our journal in November.

As Chair of the College’s climate change working group, I was immediately drawn to the results of that section of the survey. This was the first time we included questions on climate change and sustainability, but I expect this will continue for years to come as the climate emergency becomes a more prevalent part of our lives. This is a College-wide priority under our 2021-24 strategy, and we will be using the results to inform our priorities for the next three years. Within our climate change working group, we have a dedicated workstream with an aim to provide College members with appropriate support and resources that enable them to practice sustainable healthcare. This group will be taking the results and turning them in to actions that we can take to support paediatricians to play their part in climate change action.

For example, the member survey told us that a key barrier for our members to making their paediatric practice more sustainable is lack of knowledge about how climate change affects paediatrics and child health. The group had already established a page on this website to share climate change resources. They will be looking into ways that, through educational opportunities and learning events, paediatricians can gain the skills and knowledge they need to be equipped to practice in the context of our changing climate and its effects on children and young people.

I’m also really pleased that international members continue to make their voice heard at the College. Later this year, we'll launch a new online learning platform which will modernise our entire approach to online education, benefitting members no matter where they are based in the world. We are also hopeful of building on the success of our joint conference with colleagues in Singapore by running a further conference in the Middle East/North Africa region, so watch this space!

There is no shying away from the ongoing workforce challenge we are all facing, not just in paediatrics but right across healthcare. Community paediatrics is an area of extra concern, so your feedback is valuable for us to understand what some of the barriers are to pursuing a career as a community paediatrician.

More broadly, it is vital that we have accurate and comprehensive data on the UK workforce to support our ongoing campaigning for extra funding for child health services.  This month, we are launching our new workforce data collection tool. Please do take the time to complete your information if asked – it’s a short form and the more data we have, the more persuasive our argument will be with policymakers

The survey covered much more than I have been able to write about here, with sections on equality, diversity and inclusion, RCPCH &Us and global child health also included. If you’re interested, you can read the key findings and download the full results.