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Compassion | Census | Supporting our SAS colleagues

In this month’s blog, Dr Olwen Williams, RCP vice president for Wales discusses compassionate leadership and urges fellows and members to complete the 2022 RCP census, before reflecting on the huge contribution of SAS doctors to the NHS workforce.

As colder weather approaches, and the dreaded perennial ’winter pressures’ loom, along with the prospect of growing COVID case rates and the threat of a flu outbreak, I’ve been reflecting on the impact of leadership – compassionate leadership, to be precise. What we need, more than ever, are leaders who have the ability to focus on relationships through careful listening, understanding, empathising with and supporting other people. How often do you feel valued, respected and cared for? Are you aware that, in order to reach your potential and do your best work, you need to be treated compassionately? The ambition is that, by 2030, leaders across health and social care in Wales will display collective and compassionate leadership; an ambitious plan, but we can all start by adopting compassionate behaviours and work together through what might be a difficult winter and beyond.

The 2021 census of consultant physicians and higher specialty trainees in the UK highlighted that the way physicians want to work has changed over the past 10 years –20% of higher specialty trainees and 21% of consultants in Wales now work less than full time. Is this a sign that we are becoming more self-compassionate? No, I’m afraid not. More than half (55%) of consultant physicians in Wales did not use all of their annual leave last year and, on average, they worked 10%–20% more than their contracted hours due to clinical workload.

On that note, I urge you all to complete the 2022 consultant and SAS physician census. This vital annual project helps us to plan for the future and lobby for change on your behalf. Please look out for your email from the three royal colleges of physicians, which will allow you to access your personalised form using a unique URL (which should not be passed on to your colleagues). If you want to know more about how we use the data, please visit the 2021 census page. If you haven’t received your email, or are having difficulties accessing your form, please contact mwucensus@rcp.ac.uk.

Last week, we celebrated World Osteoporosis Day. I was delighted to speak to the Welsh government’s conference on bone health in Cardiff about the fantastic work done by the Falls and Fragility Fracture Audit Programme, which is managed by the RCP in London, and Dr Gwenan Huws was interviewed on BBC Radio Cymru and on S4C about plans to improve fracture liaison services.

We’ve been busy getting our messages out there! I met with Dr Iona Collins, the new BMA Cymru Wales Welsh Council chair this month. We discussed shared priorities, including supporting the medical workforce and tackling inequalities and ill-health. The RCP also hosted an online workshop on new models of integrated care in Wales, attended by regional partnership boards, royal colleges and allied professional bodies – findings and recommendations will follow. Plus, over the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing some good news stories following our visits to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, and Prince Philip and Glangwili hospitals, with the launch of two new Cyswllt reports. Keep an eye out!

Over the past year, we have established the RCP Cymru Wales SAS network, which has been very proactive and involved doctors from a variety of other specialties as well as physicians. To find out more, contact Lowri.Jackson@rcp.ac.uk. Our recent report, A positive career choice, highlights our planned actions in Wales and a follow-up briefing will be published later this month. I’m delighted that RCP SAS lead Dr Jamie Read is now the dean of medical education at Cardiff University and is working with Dr Jacob Daniel and our team to influence change at a national level.

This is even more important these days, because a recent GMC report has highlighted that staff, associate specialist and specialty (SAS) and locally employed (LE) doctors will form the largest group in the medical workforce by 2030, outnumbering doctors-in-training. The RCP is working to support our SAS colleagues to develop their careers and protect their time for education, research and leadership opportunities. I am personally indebted to dozens of SAS doctors who I have worked with over the past 40 years. They have enriched my working life. Diolch i chi gyd.

Dr Olwen Williams
RCP vice president for Wales
Consultant in sexual health and HIV medicine

News and events

Wales new members and fellows ceremony and Update in medicine – Cardiff

Are you an RCP fellow who has not yet attended a ceremony in London? Maybe you’re a trainee who has recently passed their MRCP(UK)? We are holding a joint ceremony in Cardiff on 23 November to celebrate your achievements with new members and fellows from across the world. The unique ceremony will bring together physicians and their guests with all the pomp and circumstance of our ceremonies in London, along with musical entertainment and a reception. Members can book their place here and new fellows should email Wales@rcp.ac.uk for their booking link. Why not stay overnight and attend the Update in medicine – Cardiff at the same venue the following day? We have a fantastic programme with a wide range of topics.

Obesity fellowships

The RCP is now offering three fully funded 1-year obesity fellowships. The fellowships will be hosted by NHS organisations that provide specialist weight management services and will provide a broad range of training in obesity medicine. Funding is available to cover salaries and study leave for doctors who are pre-CCT. Please do share with interested colleagues.

Report your experiences to the BMA

BMA Cymru Wales has recently launched a brand-new web portal to capture the experiences of doctors and healthcare staff in Wales.

IMT trainee becomes a Turner-Warwick lecturer

In a new blog, Dr Alex Phillips, 2020 Turner-Warwick lecturer for Wales, talks about her experience with the lecturer scheme as an internal medicine trainee (IMT) and how it’s inspired her career.

Our one-stop guide for a trainee’s early career in medicine

The RCP medicine careers showcase event offers medical students, foundation year doctors and trainees the opportunity to explore the wealth of career options available to them as prospective physicians. Taking place 30 January – 3 February 2023, delegates will have access to live sessions, as well as more than 30 specialty videos and career biographies, each offering advice and guidance about the breadth of each medical specialty. Book your space now.