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A watershed year | new vice president | trainee competitions

Dr Olwen Williams announces the winner of the 2023 election for the post of RCP vice president for Wales and encourages trainees to showcase their work through our annual competitions: the Turner-Warwick lecturer scheme is now accepting abstracts and the Wales poster competition opens on 1 April.

Well, we didn’t win the wooden spoon, but this year’s Six Nations performance was below par from the men’s rugby team. Let’s hope there is some improvement by the time the Rugby World Cup starts in France this autumn – and yes, I’ve got tickets!

First, I am delighted to announce today that Dr Hilary Williams has been elected as my successor – congratulations Hilary. Hilary becomes the fourth RCP vice president for Wales and the second woman to hold the post. She brings to the role a wealth of experience: as a champion for doctors-in-training, she has played a leading role in shaping both the Wales poster competition and our annual Update in medicine. Currently a consultant in medical oncology at Velindre, Hilary became RCP regional adviser for south-east Wales in 2018 before being elected to RCP Council in 2022. She is an active founder member of the UK Acute Oncology Society, the national Wales Cancer Network lead for acute oncology, and a mentor for the RCP Emerging Women Leaders Programme.

Hilary and I will be working jointly over the forthcoming months until the official handover in July. Along with the rest of the RCP Cymru Wales Committee, we have agreed on a work programme that includes projects on the SAS workforce, health inequalities, clinical leadership and integrated care. If you’d like to learn more about our plans, or to get involved, please contact Lowri.Jackson@rcp.ac.uk.

Now that Hilary has been elected, we are on the hunt for a new regional adviser for south Wales central, covering Cardiff and the Vale UHB, Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB or Velindre Cancer Centre. If you would like to join our passionate, enthusiastic and influential team, please do consider applying. The deadline is 31 March and more information is available on our website.

In the past few weeks, I have joined HEIW visits to the Royal Gwent, the Grange and University Hospital Wales. This has come about following our Cyswllt visits to other hospitals and is a positive step forward in how we work with HEIW to ensure high-quality medical training. I’m especially pleased to say that the findings so far chime with our recommendations from previous visits, so I’m hopeful we’ll see speedy action from the health boards involved. If you work at the Princess of Wales Hospital, do please join us on 27 April for our next Cyswllt visit. Get in touch to find out more.

Earlier this month, we presented on our campaign for a cross-government action plan to tackle health inequalities to the all-Wales cost of living summit organised by Public Health Wales. With over 150 attendees, there were some powerful messages about how we as clinicians can influence change. I know that Hilary will want to develop this work over the coming months.

The Spring Budget 2023 was published this month. For those who are struggling with the rising costs of living, there was perhaps little to celebrate; as doctors, we are all witnessing the impact of poverty on the health of our population. We are all advocates for our patients, and we should highlight the issues they are facing whenever we can. However, as someone who has a vested interest in how we retain senior doctors in the NHS, I welcome the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget announcement on pension rules. It was also good to see measures to expand childcare provision. Disappointingly, there was no funding announced to support students studying medicine.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Jacob Daniel, who has been our Wales RCP SAS representative for many years. He has been a committed and passionate advocate for SAS doctors and we wish Jacob all the best in his new job in England. Of course, this means we are now planning to recruit for a new SAS Wales lead – our SAS network is going from strength to strength, with some exciting plans in the offing. We have invited Dr Ian Collings (HEIW) and Dr Jamie Read (RCP UK SAS lead) to speak to the Academy of Royal Colleges in Wales in June about how royal colleges can best support this vital group of doctors.

I’m pleased to say that the UK government has finally published its consultation on draft legislation to bring physician associates (PAs) into regulation by the end of 2024. It’s open for comment until 16 May and I’d encourage all of you to support this important next step for PAs.  

On a different note, the older people’s commissioner for Wales has launched a new guide about people’s rights when moving into and living in a care home. They have also launched a services directory with information about who to contact for support if an older person is affected by abuse.

Finally, if you are an RCP fellow, do please take up your right to vote in the RCP elections for president, senior censor/education and training vice president and councillor. You have until midday on 3 April 2023 to cast your vote.

Stay safe.

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