Message from the President

It was a privilege to assume the role of President of our College following the AGM in December 2018, and to be the first woman in our College’s 400 year history to hold this title is an additional honour. A few years ago during an informal chat, I was asked what I thought the College should be. My response was that we should aspire to be the “Go To” Royal College – one which offers so much in terms of education, training, support and professional knowledge that it becomes a focal point of influence. As President of the College, this remains my view and I have set down this strategic goal as our focus for the years ahead.

I am grateful to the leadership of Professor David Galloway, who demitted the role of President following his three year term in office in December 2018. David has been an outstanding President and during his time in office the College has flourished. I have personally, very much appreciated his advice, support and wisdom.

In my role as President, my vision is for us to focus on three areas, which from my experience are of key importance to our members.

The first of these is workforce. Staff are the most valuable asset of the NHS, but we all work in environments where every day there are shortages: rota gaps and unfilled posts at all grades have become the norm, resulting in heavier workloads for those who are working. Enhancing recruitment is of fundamental importance, but retention of staff equally so. I also have serious concerns regarding the high proportion of consultants who will reach retirement age within the next 10 years – we need to retain the skills and wisdom of our most experienced clinicians by improving flexibility in later stages of a career.

In 2018-19, we have proactively called for action on a range of areas impacting the healthcare workforce. This includes calls to the UK government to change UK immigration rules to exempt doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 visa limit and to make special provision to increase the number of doctors from outside the EEA. We published our recommendations to the draft health and care workforce strategy for England, called on the Prime Minister to set up a working group to develop a long-term funding plan for the NHS England, and called for action on pension taxation to prevent the haemorrhaging of experienced NHS consultants from the health service. We will further build on this work through work I am leading with the Scottish Academy: we have made clear recommendations to the Scottish Government to ensure that the issue of workforce planning is addressed as a priority.

The second priority area is wellbeing. The health and wellbeing of health care professionals at all stages of career is something which greatly concerns me. Doctors and nurses are reporting increasing levels of stress, fatigue, ill health and burnout. Some of this is related to sheer volume of work and there is no doubt that wellbeing and workforce are inextricably linked. However, workplace culture undoubtedly also plays a crucial role in wellbeing.

Our College is committed to developing a programme of work to support wellbeing for healthcare professionals. The Making Life Work Better conference held in the College in September 2018 sold out almost immediately and was repeated with new content in 2019. We have been reviewing our mentorship programme with a view to significantly widening its reach, and we are working to further develop our buddy scheme, peer support, signposting resources and services. We strongly support the recommendations from the GMC report ‘Caring for doctors, caring for patients’ and will be challenging NHS Employers to implement its findings. Following on from the Sturrock report, a Ministerial Short Life Working Group tasked with Improving Workplace Culture has been set up and we are actively engaged in its work.

My third priority is inclusivity. When I look at the constitution of various boards and committees within College, but also in the wider professional context, , what I see does not adequately reflect our workforce. That must change. Equality and diversity must overarch all College activities. Allied to this has been the development of an organisational framework that puts emphasis on the values and behaviours that will sit at the heart of the College.

As the first female President of the College, gender imbalance is one area that I am passionate about addressing. It was a memorable occasion to host a lecture and social event in the College in March 2019 where we welcomed leading women in medicine from across the UK on the eve of International Women’s Day. We have also set a programme of President’s leadership lectures in 2019 all to be delivered by exceptional leading women – Dame Clare Marx, Dame Parveen Kumar, and Professor Carrie MacEwan and we also look forward to welcoming out first cohort of women to the Leadership Development programme.

My fourth priority area is engagement. I am committed to ensuring our College is fully engaged and connected with our members and colleagues working across healthcare. We have developed an engagement strategy are working to reinvigorate our International and Regional Advisor and College Tutor networks. I have also connected with many of our members working around the world.

I look forward to further developing our work across these three important areas over the years ahead as your President.

Jackie Taylor Signature