COVID-19 - how the College is responding

We are monitoring the ongoing issues with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the risks and impacts on our members and the wider child health workforce, and on children and young people.
Last modified
8 July 2020

The RCPCH is taking a number of steps to ensure we are protecting the health and welfare of clinicians and patients.

Our offices across the UK

Our head office is in central London, with about 160 staff. We also have staffed offices in the devolved nations, in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. We are committed to continuing our important work and supporting our members throughout this period.

Given advice from UK Government, College staff are working from home and our offices are closed.

Telephone calls are being diverted to staff mobile phones, but please be aware that calls may take longer to answer and that you may need to leave a message for staff to come back to you. We’d be grateful if you can supply an email and telephone number on any message. You may prefer to contact us via email in the first instance.

For key contact details, please see our Contact us page

RCPCH Conference and exhibition - online!

On 20 April, we announced the full cancellation of this event, which was scheduled to take place in Liverpool on 28-30 April 2020.

We're now planning RCPCH Conference Online 2020, starting with a 'virtual' launch event on 25 September, followed by a series of online specialty symposia, plus an ePoster platform. We look forward to sharing our exciting programme with you.

Membership ceremonies and certificates

We always enjoy welcoming new Fellows and Members of the RCPCH, and their guests, at these special events, which take place throughout the year.

Following advice from the UK Government, we have cancelled all events, including membership ceremonies..or admissions ceremonies, through August.

Unfortunately, due to the temporary closure of the RCPCH offices (see below), we are also unable to issue FRCPCH and MRCPCH certificates, including reprint requests. Once our office can reopen and we have agreed new dates for our ceremonies, we will contact all new Fellows and Ordinary members to invite them to a ceremony or receive their certificate in the post.

In the meantime, we continue to offer our verification service to all Fellows and Ordinary members who require proof that they have achieved FRCPCH or MRCPCH status.

If you have any queries or concerns you can get in with our Membership team on membership@rcpch.ac.uk.

Courses and other events

As of 18 June 2020, we have cancelled all face-to-face educational courses and events until at least January 2021. We are contacting all individual delegates who are affected by this decision to arrange a full reimbursement of the course or event fee. In the meantime, we're busy developing more online professional development opportunities, and look forward to updating you with more details soon.

We offer a range of free online learning resources - including eLearnings and podcasts and an archive of past webinars. You can also read our update on continuing professional development in this period.

We're also offering online events, and you'll find these in our events listing.

Training and exams

There is unprecedented disruption to training and assessment in paediatrics in the UK. We know that trainees will understandably be anxious and have many questions. Our guidance on trainee progression in the UK.covers ARCPs, the disruption to rotations and working patterns, and more - and links to further information about developing capabilities around the curriculum and guidance on ARCPs.

We run a mandatory half-day assessment for trainees working in the UK called START. You can read more about START including details of the next assessments.

We've had to postpone, amend or cancel scheduled our MRCPCH (membership) and DCH (Diploma of Child Health) exams this year, and delay application periods. We are writing to all affected candidates with more details, and invite you to read our COVID-19 - impact on examinations: FAQs, with links to further information on both theory and clinical exams.

On 5 May, we held a live, online Q&A on paediatric training, and you can see the recording and answers to questions.

Meetings for committees and other College groups

We are holding remote-only meetings of our committees and other working groups. Committee Chairs have been notified directly by the College of this change, and will be supported by their committee administrators in deciding on what alternative arrangements should be used.

Guidance for paediatric services

Our guidance on paediatric services is for our members and other child health professionals and covers preparing for COVID-19, occupational health, child protection and safeguarding and tonsillar examinations. It links to further guidance for community paediatrics, acute paediatrics and emergency departments, paediatric intensive care services and neonatal units. We also have detailed guidance on paediatric scenarios, isolation plans for parents/childrenclinical management for children admitted to hospital with suspected COVID-19 and a resuscitation guide.

And, we've compiled, and are updating, information on 'shielding' guidance for children and young people, and guiding principles for safeguarding partnerships and for looked after children services, and for talking to children and families about returning to school.

We've produced an ethics framework for use in acute settings: the principles relating to decisions for children in the pandemic are the same as those for adults, and these should be ethically consistent and apply to patients both with COVID-related and non-COVID related illness.

We've also created a case definition on the newly identified multisystem inflammatory syndrome temporally associated with COVID-19, or PIMS-TS, and have information for the public on this syndrome.

Workforce and impact on services

We have guidance on planning paediatric staffing and rotas. The healthcare workforce is fundamental to the NHS response to this huge challenge, and paediatricians have a responsibility to the wider profession. It's also vital that paediatric and neonatal services are maintained as much as possible. We cover rotas, rest, core skills, moving up/working across a system, clinical negligence liabiliity and more.

As of 17 April, we're inviting Trusts and Health Boards to make weekly reports so we can gauge the impact of COVID-19 on child health services, a 'temperature check'. We're using a user-friendly online data collection tool, and have a user guide. Representatives, such as the paediatric clinical lead, answer short questions relating to service capacity, staffing, PPE, testing availability and child health outcomes. The data are being reported back regularly to support service planning, and to use as a tool to influence government and decision makers - and you can view top level data.

COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on people of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) heritage. We offer solidarity and stand by our members to continue to address the structural inequalities that affect colleagues and children and young people from those communities.

Research and surveillance

We are publishing summaries from a rapid review of the scientific literature on COVID-19 and the paediatric population. 

We've compiled some information about data collection on COVID-19, with a list of new and existing sources. NHS England is running a service evaluation and audit on children admitted to hospital with COVID-19; we introduce this study and present data from it. The British Paediatric Surveillance Unit (BPSU) has been running surveillance on neonatal complications of the disease and on the multisystem inflammatory syndrome, as well as a snap-shot study on delayed presentations to hospitals.

Children and young people's views

Through our RCPCH &Us programme, we continually seek the views of children, young people and their families - and feed their voice into everything we do.

Children and young people are experiencing the impact of COVID-19, and lockdown, in many ways: their education, access to health services and emotional health and wellbeing. We're compiling studies across the UK that are collecting their experiences and insights.

We'll work with both health professionals and young people (14-24 years old) to write summaries of the studies' key findings and reflections (In a format to be determined by the  young reviewer!). These will help inform future planning for times of national crisis such as another pandemic, natural disaster, terrorist incident or other cause of disruption.

Reset, Restore Recover (the three Rs)

In the wake of this pandemic, we have an opportunity to reset how we plan and deliver healthcare for children and young people, to think about how we harness innovation and learning so that it can be shared and maintained and to use this as a basis to train and educate our paediatricians and broader child health workforce. On 19 May, we published our principles for recovery.

The following day, we ran a live Q&A event, and members can log in to view the recording of this and other such events.

Global child health

Our membership is global, and our global child health programmes work in low-resource settings around the world. We are working with global partners to share new knowledge about the potential direct effects of COVID-19 among newborns, children and young people, as well as the indirect impacts of the disease on families and on health systems. See our some information about our work with paediatric services in low- and medium-income countries.

Supporting members

Members opted in to get College updates by email will get a weekly email from our President Russell Viner and other senior Officers. You can read these on our website - see President's blog.

It's is more important than ever to take care of yourself. We've reached out to College members across the UK, who have recommended some useful wellbeing resources, whether at work or at home, to support you through these difficult times. See our hub of wellbeing resources.

For families

We've compiled authoritative and evidence-based resources for parents and carers, This includes a poster to explain when and whom to contact if your child is ill in this period.

The RCPCH &Us team has been busy, too -  creating an activity pack and a health diary for children and young people staying at home, plus some happy birthday (as we're now five years old) and thank you cards for members to send to their patients. The team is sharing fantastic pictures by children for our members on Twitter and Instagram.