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.