It gives me enormous pleasure to be able to attend and contribute to BAPIO’s annual conference, a time when doctors from the UK and abroad can come together to share ideas, learnings and experience. Our College enjoys a membership of more than 19,000 paediatricians, with more than 20% working outside the UK and the EU. Our global health work continues to grow: we work with local societies and volunteers in 18 countries to carry out a very busy programme of examinations and training.
The College also has a humanitarian programme of work in low-income countries with Unicef and others, working with volunteers in Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Myanmar, helping to strength their systems to improve care for the youngest. Colleges must also ensure that they can represent the breadth of their membership properly. We have set up an independent group co-chaired by our international Officer, Dr Bhanu Williams, to look at how we maximise opportunities for all of paediatrics, to ensure that we remain a diverse body and benefit from all the skills and experience contained in our active and passionate membership body.
Over the past year, we have worked very hard to support the development and now implementation of NHS England’s Long Term Plan, its ambitious blueprint setting out plans for
improvements of the service over the next decade. It was important for us that the services for children and young people received considerable attention within this, setting out clear pathways for more integrated and personalised services. There is now a Transformation Board set up to implement the delivery of this plan, on which our President, Professor Russell Viner, is vice- chair.
The Long Term Plan work is our opportunity to transform the way child health is delivered in the
country, to ensure that there is proper integration between services, with the resources they need
to do the job properly. Importantly, there is a big focus on meeting the mental health needs of so
many young people. As a College, we also work with governments and bodies in Scotland, Wales
and Northern Ireland as health is a devolved issue for each nation. We also publish The State of
Child Health annually, a document recording how progress is being made in a range of areas in each nation where we need to see better outcomes.
The College has recently started a new scheme to attract paediatricians to become RCPCH
Ambassadors across the country, and they will help us to advocate for the improvement of local
services in ways that benefit children and ensure that local commissioners have someone to talk to about the local child health workforce. We know that for our members, it’s important that the College can help enable them to use their expertise, communications skills and knowledge in order to deliver better outcomes for young people. Last year, Professor Viner launched Paediatrics 2040, a project that will look 20 years ahead to understand the challenges paediatricians will face over the coming decades and identify the best ways that a truly 21-st century College can support its members and fulfil its mission to promote child and adolescent health.
For many of the attendees at the conference today, prevention of ill health is high on the agenda.
Primary prevention that begins before birth is crucial to the success of any NHS plan. Improvements in service provision will only provide a sticking plaster if the circumstances in which the country’s poorest children grow up do not improve. Prevention is an integral part of the solution to many of the problems that children face, from increasing mortality rates, to high prevalence of obesity, to widening social and health inequalities. To learn more about our priorities in this area, please go to: