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RCP vice president for Wales: Cautious optimism | election fever | are closer to home

RCP vice president for Wales, Dr Olwen Williams discusses our new report on 'hospital at home' in Wales, invites doctors to join our new SAS network, and looks ahead to the Six Nations.

What was the title of my January 2021 blog? Above the dark clouds, there is a blue sky. What a roller coaster of a year it was – with glimpses of that blue sky, but many dark clouds. The optimist in me sees a brighter, less turbulent year ahead, despite the Omicron wave and the huge winter pressures that we are currently experiencing.

I hear people say we cannot keep letting COVID-19 get in the way of business. Others are expressing a desire to permanently adopt their new ways of working and not slip back into old habits. We are still coping with huge rota gaps, sickness and isolation rates: an RCP survey in December 2021 suggested that 1 in 10 physicians in UK were unable to work during the pre-Christmas period. However, the response from Wales was not high – so I’m sending out a plea for people to supply us with robust data by completing the surveys. However, the response from Wales was not high – so I’m sending out a plea for people to supply us with robust data by completing the surveys. On a similar note, the 2021–22 census of higher specialty trainees will close on 14 February. If this applies to you, please do take 15 minutes and fill it in. It really does provide us with the evidence we need to influence change on your behalf.

On Monday, we will launch No place like home: Using virtual wards and ‘hospital at home’ services to tackle the pressures on urgent and emergency care. This latest report from the RCP Cymru Wales team offers several case studies from around Wales and sets out recommendations to improve patient flow through hospital by investing in ‘hospital at home’ services. Let us know what you think!

Are you a Welsh speaker? We are always looking for RCP members who are willing to talk about their experiences with the media through the medium of Welsh. Last year I carried out over 70 broadcast interviews across radio and television, many of them in Welsh – it’s an incredibly useful way of getting our messages across to politicians and the public, and I’d urge you to contact us if you can help: Lowri.Jackson@rcp.ac.uk. We can provide briefings, top tips and media training: it’s great for the CV.

2022 is an RCP election year. We will soon know the names of the seven presidential candidates and there will be a virtual hustings in March.  There will also be two elections in Wales: this is my final year as vice president, and we will be seeking nominations for the role during the summer. There will also be a regional adviser election in north Wales during the summer. Please do think about becoming more involved with our work in Wales and consider standing for election! I can highly recommend the experience. It has been an absolute pleasure working on your behalf over the past 2 years.

Following our visit to Ysbyty Wrexham Maelor and our report last year, we recently met with the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board executive team. There is a follow-up meeting planned with physicians in Wrexham on 31 January, after which we will put together a 6-month progress report. We have also been working closely with the Aneurin Bevan executive medical director to monitor their action plan. Both health boards appear to be making progress, but as ever, we depend on you to keep us in the picture. Please do get in touch with any concerns.

As COVID-19 alert levels are de-escalated over the coming weeks, we may be able to start meeting in person again in the spring. Between winter pressures and staff absence, face-to-face events are unlikely for a few weeks yet. However, the RCP Cymru Wales update in medicine on 24 November should bring us all back together in Cardiff for the first time in 3 years – an exciting prospect!

Also in 2022, we are planning two Cyswllt RCP Connect meetings in north and south-west Wales, a president’s visit in south-east Wales, our inaugural SAS network meeting on 9 February and, of course, the flagship RCP Medicine 2022 conference on 31 March–1 April. Please contact the RCP team in Wales with any questions: Wales@rcp.ac.uk.

New RCP strategy 2022–2024

The RCP has published a new strategy setting out three main priorities: educating physicians and supporting them to fulfil their potential; improving health and care and leading the prevention of ill health across communities; and influencing the way that healthcare is designed and delivered.

Call for abstracts

Medicine 2022, the RCP annual conference, will be held this year on 31 March–1 April. Submit your abstract by 11 February for the opportunity to have your research seen by people across the globe. For more information, and to submit your abstract, visit our website.

And the winner is …

The presentation by the 2021 winner of the Turner-Warwick lecturer scheme in Wales is now available to watch free and on demand via the RCP Player. Our Wales winner was Dr Scott O’Rourke, ST6 at Prince Philip Hospital. His presentation was ‘The potential of metabolomics in diagnosing and monitoring obstructive sleep apnoea hypopnoea syndrome’.

New guidance from Health Technology Wales

HTW have recommended the routine adoption of a new method for diagnosing heart failure in Wales, as well as a new psychological support programme aimed at reducing depression among carers of people with dementia.

Keeping well this winter

Public Health Wales has published new Keeping well this winter leaflets in English and in Welsh.

Funding call: Planned Care Innovation Programme

Apply for funding and support to develop, apply and test innovative approaches to help transform planned care services in Wales through the Planned Care Innovation Programme, led by the Bevan Commission and funded by Welsh government. Apply by 15 February at their website.

New college tutor lead for Wales

Finally, I’d like to welcome Dr Andrew Lansdown to the team. He takes over from Dr Jo Morris as lead college tutor in Wales: a huge thank you to Jo who has done an excellent job over the past few years, and now takes up a post as training programme director with HEIW.

Speaking of blue sky, I’m delighted that the first minister has announced that the Six Nations rugby tournament will have spectators. I will be one of them – masked, of course!

Take care and stay safe.