This information is applicable to our engagement in Westminster, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Media and External Affairs Team
Our team aims to ensure the College is seen, and used, as the ‘go-to’ when it comes to child health and government/parliamentary developments.
The College works proactively with politicians to effectively put forward the health issues that affect children and young people to the public, nationally and locally – and our recommendations on how to improve child health.
Using our members as spokespeople gives our voice added strength. This raises the profile of the College and the work of paediatricians more generally.
We work closely with government representatives, alongside other parliamentarians and advisers, to put forward our position on relevant child health issues. This is to inform and influence policy so that it is the best that it can be, for children and young people and that these issues are being considered and debated in parliament.
The team is here to support members who contribute to this work, briefing you ahead of meetings or speaking at events such as those at the political party conferences.
What kinds of meetings and events would I attend?
- We often secure meetings with politicians to discuss a key campaign, policy priority or new report that we have launched, going in with actions and recommendations that we want the politician to take, such as for example, tabling a debate in parliament on a particular child health issue.
- We host our own events and meetings and secure representation at stakeholder events with RCPCH speakers at the political party conferences, where we put forward our key messages to party members and other stakeholders.
- Politicians will quite often approach us for examples on the ground they can include in their own meetings and speeches. They will just want to speak to a paediatrician for advice.
- We are also often approached for written briefings on a key child health issue ahead of a relevant debate in parliament, where we will include experiences and examples from members.
- There are occasionally opportunities to input and give oral evidence to a particular parliamentary committee inquiry, where members can give oral evidence or provide information for our written briefings.
Processes for these activities vary. But, we always provide you with a full briefing ahead of any meetings you take on behalf of the College.
Parliamentary meetings: top tips
- Ensure a strong start. Be clear about the problem you’re addressing, your proposed solution, and the impact that solution will have.
- Keep it simple and use language your audience will understand – politicians won’t necessarily be experts on child health issues and understand clinical terms.
- Make it relevant. It is important to see things from the point of view of the politician, what they might want to get out of the meeting and adapt your messages accordingly.
- If you are asked questions that you aren’t placed to answer, just say so and that you’ll ask the RCPCH to look into it and see if they can help.
- Have any evidence to hand that supports your view.
- Politicians generally like examples of your own experiences on the ground - but remember not to divulge too much information, especially if it is an elected representative’s constituent, as you may risk patient confidentiality agreements.
- Focus on an action that the politician has to take. Politicians will usually ask “what can I do to help?” if presented with a problem, so ensure that you set out actions and next steps. We can advise you on this.
- Do not be political. The College, as a charity is subject to Charity Commission regulations on remaining politically objective. It would be a violation of these regulations and unprofessional to be explicitly political, favouring one party over another in meetings/events where you are representing the College. Our training will advise on what would be considered political.
Contacting your elective representative
If you would like to meet your local elected representative to discuss national and local key child health issues and gain their support for our work in parliament, please do get in touch. We can advise you on identifying your local elected representative and provide a template letter to approach them for a meeting.