This month, Dr Olwen Williams uses her blog to reflect on the importance of the language we use, the upcoming Faculty of Physicians tour dates in Wales and she introduces this month’s guest blogger, Dr Hilary Williams. There’s also a reminder for RCP fellows: please remember to vote in the 2022 election!
It’s been a busy month! I’ve had lots of face-to-face meetings, a visit to our new RCP office in Cardiff, and I’ve been to several rugby matches. Most especially, I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with RCP colleagues for the first time in many months, and I am looking forward to the Faculty of Physician Associates tour next month when it comes to the Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran and Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor. If you are a physician associate working in Wales, you can join either of these events, or otherwise dial in via MS Teams to meet your president, Kate Straughton. Visit the FPA website to find out more.
It’s been a long 2 years and a couple of weeks ago, the RCP president, Dr Andrew Goddard and I met with Jo Stevens MP, shadow secretary of state for Wales – she asked us to pass on her heartfelt thanks for all your hard work during the pandemic. However, as we continue to live with ambiguity and uncertainty in an ever-volatile, uncertain and complex world, the methods of VUCA come to mind. It is hugely important that we as leaders understand the systems that we operate in and learn to focus on what counts. The conflict in Ukraine highlights how fragile world peace is. Please consider donating via the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, or via UK-Med, the main UK charity coordinating the healthcare response on the ground.
At a recent showing of RCP special adviser on obesity Professor Rachel Batterham’s film, Obesity: England’s most pressing healthcare challenge?, there was an interesting debate on how we talk about people who are diagnosed with a chronic condition. How many of us still use terms like ‘diabetic’, ‘grossly obese’ and ‘HIV-positive’, rather than ‘living with’ diabetes?
I recently met with the chair of the RCP patient and carer network, Eddie Kinsella to discuss the importance of the language we use, and how the college can support this. In Wales, we are supporting the Welsh government to update Mwy na geiriau (More than just words), the plan to encourage the use of Welsh in health and social care. If you would like to know more, please contact Lowri Jackson.
This month’s guest blogger is Dr Hilary Williams, consultant in medical oncology and RCP regional adviser for south-east Wales. You can read her full blog online in which she discusses the 2022 Wales Update in medicine and the joy of meeting up with colleagues in a face-to-face setting.
Finally, a reminder that the fellowship nomination process has changed and that voting for the 2022 RCP elections (for president, clinical vice president and councillor) closes at midday on 11 April. Fellows in good standing have been emailed their unique voting link by Civica Election Services (email@example.com) – if you haven’t received yours, please check your junk/spam folder. Please direct any questions and troubleshooting issues to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fellows, don’t miss this chance to help shape the future of the RCP and the physician voice in health and care policy.
Enjoy the spring weather and I’ll see you at RCP Medicine 2022!
Dr Olwen Williams OBE
RCP vice president for Wales
Consultant in sexual health and HIV medicine
Update in medicine 2022 | clinical trials | Every doctor counts
One of the real privileges of being an RCP regional adviser is planning our annual conference: the RCP Cymru Wales Update in medicine. We start meeting to brainstorm ideas almost a year beforehand! As ideas start flowing, meetings have been known to get quite heated, but somehow, we always get to a first draft of our agenda. We want a programme that’s relevant to day-to-day practice, reflects Wales and our population, and keeps people in the conference awake and engaged. We know when we get it right: there are questions being asked until the end of the last session and a real buzz during the coffee breaks. This year the conference is back in person at the Marriott Hotel in Cardiff on 24 November 2022. We are hosting one of only six updates across the UK, and I’m sure there will be a real appetite to catch up with colleagues across Wales. Book your study leave early!
Improving trial recruitment
I have recruited to trials throughout my career, in fields as varied as HIV and cardiology, and trials are very much part of the day-to-day in my specialty, medical oncology. I treat patients with colorectal cancer, and we have not benefited from some of the life-changing immunotherapy drugs that are routine in melanoma, renal and lung cancer. But that is beginning to change. I have been really pleased to enroll patients in novel trial options: post-pandemic, new treatments are very much needed given the increase in colorectal cancer in the under 50s.
This is one of the reasons I was keen to have a focus on research in acute medicine at the 2022 update. I was inspired by a chat with Dr Jon Underwood, consultant physician in acute medicine and infectious diseases based at the University Hospital of Wales, about the very prominent role the UK played in COVID-19 trials and the excellent trial recruitment in Wales. Can we exploit this experience to deliver more trials at the front door? We are always keen to hear suggestions for topics or speakers you would like to see in future events, so please do get in touch with your ideas.
Every doctor counts
We need to support our trainees to stay in Wales and this means providing excellent development and career options. Presenting at our poster competition is a great way for trainees to demonstrate service improvement and research and contributes points to higher specialty training applications.
In 2021 the UK-wide regional poster competition received over 500 applications across 14 competitions. 195 trainees went on to present their virtual poster. A total of 42 judges participated, shortlisting abstracts and judging posters. This year’s Welsh poster competition will be open 5 April—12 June: please apply or encourage your trainees to do so. It’s a great opportunity. Please contact the RCP Wales team for more information.
Together, we are stronger
I am sure many of us are thinking of colleagues in eastern Europe and wondering how their already stretched health systems can possibly cope? Most of us have never experienced war but some of our colleagues in Wales have left political instability to come to the UK. I caught up recently with Dr Karam Aboud, a senior trainee and friend from Velindre who left Syria before the war. His extended family have been caught up in the conflict there: he has lost friends, family and was unable to say goodbye to his frail grandparents.
Karam told me how much he values his life in Wales. He is resilient and funny and says that even a bad day working in the NHS has lots of positives compared to the challenges that others face. We have bonded over food parcels from his mother – Syrian spices via Sheffield – and his family are very proud of his achievements. We are so lucky to have such a vibrant global workforce in Wales.
Finally, don’t forget to vote in this year’s RCP elections! I am standing for RCP Council and Olwen is standing for president: all election material is held in the election hub and all fellows have been emailed with details of how to vote online.
Dr Hilary Williams
RCP regional adviser for south-east Wales
Consultant in medical oncology