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The times they are a-changin'

In this month’s blog, Dr Olwen Williams looks forward to the new member ceremony in Cardiff in November, discusses her latest video interview with Judith Paget, and welcomes a new regional adviser to the RCP Cymru Wales team!

Dear colleague,

As I enjoy the last rays of the summer sunshine, I cannot help feeling the coolness of autumn and the inevitable arrival of shorter days. Change can have a phenomenal impact on us – a feeling akin to grief. If you are familiar with the five stages of grief, you’ll be aware that we must go through a process (often not linear) of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

There have been so many big changes for us all over the past month: the death of our RCP Visitor, Her Majesty The Queen, a new prime minister, and let’s not forget, Dr Sarah Clarke, the new RCP president has now started in post. These events have all happened in the context of growing fuel poverty, rising health inequalities, strikes, and turmoil in the NHS – which is creaking under the strain of patient demand and the waiting lists backlog. It is not surprising that burnout, moral injury and fatigue are prevalent in the medical workforce. No matter how many secondary interventions are put in place to protect our wellbeing, these are futile unless the underlying issue is addressed.

During my visits to health boards around Wales, I have heard numerous impressive accounts of how physicians have adapted to cope with the combination of service and workforce pressures, yet my concern is for their personal wellbeing – to quote Dame Helen Stokes-Lampard, ‘this winter, soldiering on won’t work for the NHS’ – nor will it work for physicians.

But now, it’s time to turn to happier thoughts, especially because it is just a few short weeks until we can all get together for our annual Update in medicine in Cardiff on 24 November. And the day before that, I am excited to say that we will be hosting a spectacular ceremony for new RCP members and fellows in Cardiff. If you or a colleague or family member has recently passed MRCP(UK) – or perhaps you have been awarded a fellowship this year? – please do join me and the rest of the RCP Cymru Wales team for a celebration of your fantastic achievements. Bring your family to enjoy the pomp and circumstance of a London ceremony, followed by musical entertainment at a reception with a distinctly Welsh flavour. Members can book their place here and new fellows should email Wales@rcp.ac.uk for their booking link.

Earlier this month, we joined colleagues in south-west Wales for two wonderful in-person Cyswllt RCP Connect events at Prince Philip Hospital and Glangwili Hospital. We aim to hold at least three Cyswllt RCP Connect engagement events with members and fellows across Wales every year, as well as a president’s hospital visit every autumn. Over the past year, we’ve organised virtual visits to Wrexham Maelor, the Grange and Swansea Bay University Health Board. Our follow-up reports and recommendations are here. A north Wales event report from our Ysbyty Glan Clwyd visit – Positives from the pandemic – will be launched soon. Look out for it!

In exciting news, we recently brought together 25 royal colleges and allied health professional bodies to publish Bringing the clinical voice to the conversation. The aim is to develop stronger ongoing relationships with national organisations like Health Education and Improvement Wales and the Welsh government. We are hoping to set up twice-yearly summits to discuss shared priorities and we’ll keep you updated.

For those of you involved with implementing the national clinical framework, the minister for health has announced that the new NHS executive for Wales will be a ‘hybrid model’ led from within Welsh government. Over 30 organisations endorsed an RCP paper setting out our views on this approach over the summer, and this month, we published our response to the Welsh government consultation on how the executive will be established. Watch this space!

In a few days, we will say goodbye to Dr Mick Kumwenda, who steps down as regional adviser for north Wales after 8 years. He has offered me (and my predecessors) a great deal of support and wise counsel; a huge thanks to him for everything he has done over the past few years.

Looking to the future, I would like to welcome Dr Ben Thomas, consultant nephrologist at Wrexham Maelor who will take up the regional adviser role for north Wales on 1 October. Ben currently sits on the RCP Committee on Ethical Issues in Medicine in London and we look forward to working with him.

This month, our guest blogger is Dr Khalid Ali, consultant neurologist at the Grange University Hospital in south-east Wales. He reflects on the challenges of opening a new hospital during a pandemic and his decision to stand for college tutor when all seemed lost. It’s a great read.

Finally, I am saddened to say I will be demitting as vice president for Wales after Christmas as my term comes to an end in spring 2023. A call for nominations will go out in November; if you are interested and have questions about the role, please do feel free to get in touch with me. It is a thoroughly rewarding, challenging and exciting role, and I highly recommend the experience to you all!

Stay safe.

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

Membership news and events

Wales new members ceremony – 23 November 2022, from 2pm

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 in 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.

Mind the gap in health inequalities

In July, in partnership with the Welsh NHS Confederation Health and Wellbeing Alliance, we launched a new paper on the barriers to tackling health inequalities, Mind the gap: the cost-of-living crisis and the rise in inequalities in Wales which was endorsed by 50 organisations. More recently, we submitted an article to the Public Health Wales online bulletin.

In conversation with … Judith Paget CBE, director general of health and social services at Welsh government and the chief executive of NHS Wales

In the latest in my ‘In conversation with…’ video podcast series of interviews with leading figures across the Welsh health and care sector, I met Judith Paget for a chat about the future of the NHS, crime novels and KitKats! Watch our conversation here

A Turner-Warwick winner from Wales

In this blog, Dr Alex Phillips – 2020 Turner-Warwick lecturer for Wales – talks about her experience with the lecturer scheme as an internal medicine trainee and how it’s inspired her career going forward. Read the blog from 30 September.


On the Record: In conversation with Sir Andrew Goddard

Listen to the first episode in our new podcast series from RCP registrar Professor Cathryn Edwards – On the Record – where she talks to people with unique perspectives on the RCP and physicians. In this episode with immediate past president of the RCP, Sir Andrew Goddard, they explore motivations, for example why he started being active in the RCP, what the main drivers of the role are and his passion for cultural inclusivity within the college and medicine more widely.

The Turner-Warwick lecturer scheme!

The Turner-Warwick lecturer scheme provides a sense of pride, builds confidence and encourages trainees across the UK. The deadline for applications to the 2023 scheme is quickly approaching: 4 October 2022. Consultants and SAS doctors – please remind your trainees about this opportunity. Find out more.

The Med+ programme is now live!

We are delighted to welcome over 50 speakers for the Med+ conference, taking place on 24 and 25 October. Across the 2 days, you will enjoy specialty updates on cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases and more. Join us at RCP at The Spine in Liverpool, or online and earn up to 10 CPD credits.