- New ways of working for our devolved nations team – what does this mean?
- Other changes to the way we work
- What does this mean for the number of staff working in Wales?
- When will these changes take place?
- Will there be any reduction in expertise in the devolved policy, legislative and health service landscape in Wales?
- What’s the plan for the St David’s Day Conference in Wales?
- What about the Welsh Paediatric Society and the relationship with the Royal College?
- How will RCPCH increase its footprint in the devolved nations in the future?
New ways of working for our devolved nations team – what does this mean?
As you may be aware from the Welsh paediatric Society meeting, the RCPCH is making some changes to the way our staff work in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, our devolved nations team – like staff across the whole organisation – have worked remotely. Initially, this was an emergency response to the first lockdown. The UK’s governments mandated that we should all work from home if we could. In the devolved Nations that hasn’t changed since March unlike England. The Scottish Government have said that organisations should make every reasonable effort to make working from home the default position. It’s a similar story in Northern Ireland where people should work at home where possible. In Wales, our Welsh Government has made it clear that they see this as a long term change to help the environment and economy by reducing traffic, pollution and noise as well as giving workers greater flexibility.
The College has been involved in a huge amount of advocacy and influencing policy both centrally with the Westminster Government and here in Wales with the Welsh Government. We have been active around high profile issues including re-opening schools, child protection, free school meals and providing information resources for parents who may be confused about accessing health services during this pandemic. This increased demand for advocacy & policy development is likely to be with us in the long term; we hope children will benefit from our work.
After several months of working from home, members of staff working in our devolved nations team and the College’s Senior Management Team agreed that this is a model they’d like to work to in the longer term. The technology held up well and has enabled us to work effectively in this way, delivering guidance, advocacy work, member meetings and regular engagement with governments and other stakeholders online. In Wales, this has included a series of meetings with clinical leads to guide us through the Covid pandemic and a meeting of our Executive Committee.
We’re still learning and trying new ideas and technology to make sure this works for staff and members and we are working through different practicalities in the three devolved nations. We are confident we can make this work and be responsive both to the needs of our members and our staff.
Other changes to the way we work
We’re also updating some of the ways we work so that we can have greater impact in the devolved nations and, over time, increase and improve the service we can offer members in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The external demand on our teams in the nations has grown significantly and as we build our profile and influence, we expect this trend to continue. This is a good thing and a sign of the hard work we’re doing to give our members a voice in the devolved nations. However, with finite capacity, it’s becoming more and more important that the teams in the nations know that they can draw upon the resources of the wider College and that all of our teams and divisions renew their commitment to delivering for our members across the UK. That enables staff in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to focus on:
- Delivering the policy objectives identified by College members
- Advocating on behalf of our members and the children you care for
- Supporting our Officers and Committees in the Nations to have real influence and impact.
What does this mean for the number of staff working in Wales?
There is no impact on the number of staff working in Wales – we’ll still have two full time roles in Wales, working within a structure that is broadly similar to the existing one. This is about increasing our influence and impact in the Nations, whilst developing new ways of working in response to the needs of our staff and the changing environment. This can’t be done by reducing staff numbers! Having a strong staff presence in the nations is central to achieving the desired impact.
It does mean that existing staff in Wales will get more support in a range of areas of College activity, (for example around event planning and training) so that the College overall can increase and improve what it offers to and for members in the Nations.
When will these changes take place?
Staff in Wales have already been working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic with no use of the physical office since March 2020. Thus the “physical office” will close at the end of November 2020. Wider changes in ways of working for staff will take place from January 2021 although we’re already working more closely with colleagues across the College on important projects like the St David’s Day Conference (more on that below).
Will there be any reduction in expertise in the devolved policy, legislative and health service landscape in Wales?
No, the aim is to increase this expertise and improve our response to devolved government, politics and health services. That will continue to be the major focus for our teams in the devolved nations. Growing this expertise and improving the ways in which we ensure this is fed into all of our outputs across the College is the challenge ahead. We’re working hard to build that into our ways of working across the organisation to be less England-centric and more responsive across the UK’s four nations.
What’s the plan for the St David’s Day Conference in Wales?
The theme and content for our St David’s Day Conference has traditionally been led by trainees in Wales and hosted in Wales. This will continue to be the case – it’s very much Welsh member-led. We’re working already on the 2021 event but can’t say too much yet, because we’re still at the planning stage. RCPCH trainee members leading on this have big plans and we can’t wait to share them with you!
What about the Welsh Paediatric Society and the relationship with the Royal College?
We have an agreement with the Welsh Paediatric Society detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding which has been in place for some time. RCPCH will continue to honour this with staff on the ground in Wales. This will involve continuing to work closely with the WPS and being very much involved in activities that we know our members value highly, particularly the clinical meetings. Our staff in Wales will also continue to be a first point of contact. The College’s commitment to delivering on the agreement won’t change.
How will RCPCH increase its footprint in the devolved nations in the future?
For the first time, the College now has a commitment to increasing our reach into the devolved nations as a core objective. Across the College, teams are looking at what they need to do.
A number of changes have taken place in Education and Training structures, which offers scope for better coordination and information exchange between the E&T division and the Nations. There will be clearer opportunities for involvement of the National Officers in E&T activity, which will help guide priority setting and targeting of resources on agreed activities. Our events team will be on hand to offer far more support and engagement than we’ve had previously. Our workforce team are working ever closer with staff in the nations to produce nation-specific report and data – which our devolved nations staff are then able to use to advocate on behalf of paediatrics and paediatricians. Our Policy, Research and Quality Improvement and Devolved Nations teams are working together on products to help parents and health services over what is likely to be a difficult winter. Our Engagement team continue to work with children and young people in all four of the UK’s nations through the &Us network. They inform all our thinking and outputs and have ring-fenced time for working in each of the three devolved nations.
These are just some examples of the kind of work we’re doing and the direction of travel. As we work towards our next College strategy, increasing our reach into the nations will be high on the agenda.