As the NHS celebrates 73 years of patient care, Dr Olwen Williams reflects on the hard work and dedication of doctors in training and associate college tutors in Wales.
As we celebrate 73 years of the NHS and delight in the news that NHS staff have received recognition from Her Majesty, The Queen, we must pause and reflect on the enormity of what has happened over the past 18 months. We all deserve a big ‘thank you’.
I would personally like to thank the doctors in training, who have shown such courage and fortitude during the pandemic. In particular, I would like to thank all those individuals who have been supporting others. I have been humbled by the sheer dedication of our wonderful associate college tutors (ACTs), who have worked closely with RCP Cymru Wales during this time. They have been our eyes and ears on the ground, giving valuable feedback, which in turn has enabled us to address issues that their colleagues are facing. If any trainees would like to know more about the ACT role, there are details on the RCP website – or talk to your college tutor. We’d love to have you on board.
A growing workforce shortage
I would like to echo our president’s sentiments from his 5 July bulletin. The biggest birthday present we could receive is investment in attaining a robust workforce. The recent RCP survey on flexible working highlights the potential exodus of senior clinicians over the next 3 years – a sobering situation.
So, while we need to expand our medical student places, we also need to recruit and train the physicians of the future. What would make medicine more attractive? Sometimes it feels as if I’m stating the obvious, but filled, sustainable rotas would go a long way to improve the situation. The popularity of the RCP virtual conference ‘Call the med reg’, which had more than 1,000 registered attendees, gives me some hope. Equipping our IMT3 and ST3 with the right tools, skills and knowledge to transition into a medical registrar role is imperative, and we can support our trainees by running such courses. I am also very proud that the concept for the course, which originated in Wales, is now ‘mainstream’, and has the ongoing involvement of The Core.
Tackling the environmental crisis
We also need to learn from the pandemic: are we building back better? How do we build back greener? If the NHS is to be sustainable, it’s not just the workforce that needs investment; its environmental footprint also needs to be addressed. With the launch of Green Health Wales, a network of healthcare professionals who state the ‘climate emergency is a health emergency’, it’s imperative that we all engage in this. I’ve been impressed with how this network has been driven by doctors in training – please check out their Bevan exemplar project.
Reflecting on the pandemic
We have arranged an evening of reflection on the impact of the pandemic – Dr Nerys Conway has put together an exciting programme ‘Adapting to life after COVID’, which will be held virtually on 7 September at 6.30pm. Book your space now!
And finally …
As schools break up, and restrictions are eased, I hope you all have some down time with your family and friends.
Dr Olwen Williams
RCP vice president for Wales
Consultant physician in sexual health and HIV medicine