In the latest edition of our membership magazine “voice”, our President Professor Jackie Taylor has written an update on her work on your behalf. The full update is below. College Members can read the full magazine by logging into their online dashboard account.
It’s hard to believe that one year has already passed since I became President of our College. Time seems to have gone by so quickly, and yet when I reflect on the year, we have achieved so much thanks to the outstanding contributions of our Fellows and Members and College staff who have all made such an impact in taking this College forward.
When I took on the role of President in December 2018, I set a strategic goal for our College to be the Go To Royal College – one that offers so much in terms of education, training, support and professional knowledge that it becomes a focal point of influence.
The healthcare workforce is one of the most valuable assets of any nation. But many of us are working in environments where there are staffing shortages, ever increasing workloads are becoming the norm, and doctors and nurses are reporting increasing levels of stress, fatigue, ill health and burnout.
As a College, we have played an essential role in setting standards for examinations and assessments, delivering education, training and CPD opportunities, and providing mentorship and support for the profession. In all of these areas we have excelled.
But this College stands apart from the others. We are unique as the only UK Royal College that represents healthcare professionals working across medicine, surgery, dentistry, travel medicine and podiatric medicine. There is great strength in the diversity of our community, and ensuring our collective voice is the loudest to be heard in speaking up for the whole profession.
This year we have completed work on our College positioning to ensure the profession and public have a clear understanding of who we are and what we stand for. Our members have been wonderful in coming forward to share their stories about what matters to them – the faces of our membership have become the faces of our College, bringing to life imagery across our website and communications.
We have stood up tall and established ourselves as the College that is speaking up for the profession. As President, I have outlined four key areas of priority: these are workforce, wellbeing, inclusivity, and engagement. We have set up working groups in each of these areas to ensure that we are actively addressing concerns and speaking up to ensure positive progress is made.
In April, we formed an engagement team with a focus on getting out and about, connecting with people, and raising the profile of our College through networks and personal contact. Our Regional Advisor and College Tutor networks have been reinvigorated through ongoing recruitment. We set out a values and behaviours framework to ensure we continue to strive for excellence in the way we interact with people. Through our “Who We Are” campaign, we have been able to showcase the diversity of our membership and to engage with members from all over the world. Our Fellowship pin was launched as a mark of pride and standing of those we are proud to call Fellows of this College. As President, I have had the pleasure of engaging with colleagues and partners in UK, Ireland, India, Sri Lanka, and Dubai.
Our workforce group has been actively working to influence policy and identify solutions to current workforce shortages. While most of this work has been concentrated on workforce issues in the UK, many of the problems and solutions are consistent with other nations.
- Production of a problems and solutions report with the Scottish Academy to outline recommendations for positive solutions to workforce challenges
- Launch of a census of UK physician consultants and higher specialty trainees, produced in partnership with other UK medical royal colleges, to help us better understand the challenges and opportunities for change
- An urgent need to reform the pensions tax system for consultants, which is having a terrible impact on our ability to retain consultants within the NHS
There have been many reports evidencing the impact of workforce shortages on the wellbeing of the profession. More than one quarter of doctors report being unable to cope with their workload on a weekly basis, while one in eight have taken a leave of absence due to stress in the last year. I welcome the GMC report on Caring for Doctors, Caring for Patients
and we will be trying to drive the implementation of its recommendations. It is absolutely essential that our profession is well-cared for if we’re to provide quality care to our patients. Our wellbeing group has been actively working with others to identify areas where our College can promote positive action and learn from best practice to improve wellbeing.
- Making Life Work Better conference, which provided excellent examples of initiatives being taken to support wellbeing in the workplace
- Production of a “Little Book of Wellbeing” containing lots of wellbeing tips written by healthcare professionals for healthcare professionals
- A Season of Good Wellbeing campaign throughout December, which highlighted a positive wellbeing tip or message every day provided by our members and friends
- Review and development of our mentorship and buddy schemes to ensure they meet the needs of our members
- Signposting to resources and organisations that can provide support and guidance to those seeking wellbeing advice
As the first female President of our College, I feel able to comment on the lack of diversity which I have experienced on boards and committees. This is something that needs to be addressed, and the inclusivity working group will be updating our policies and also promoting inclusivity as a core value in organisations.
- A women in leadership celebration on the eve of international women’s day, in which we welcomed a number of high profile women in leadership roles to the College
- Development of a Leadership Development Programme for women in partnership with the University of Glasgow – the first cohort commenced the programme in October this year
- Commencement of work on an equality, diversity and inclusivity policy for the College
During David Galloway’s presidency, the College has established itself as a leader in the area of global health and this work has continued this year through the MTI scheme, Livingstone Fellowships, and support for international organisations such as The College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA). We are also proud to have worked in partnership with Scottish Government and University of Glasgow to establish the first Dental school in Malawi which received its first intake of students this year. Through our charitable HOPE Foundation, we have also funded a range of projects at home such as the Winter Night Shelter in Glasgow and internationally such as diabetic foot management training in Malawi.
We continue to work in partnership with Obesity Action Scotland (OAS) to influence policy to tackle this major public health challenge. OAS has successfully influenced policy in Scotland through its lobbying work, and hosts and support the Scottish Obesity Alliance to ensure a single, collective voice for action on obesity.
These are examples of some of the areas where we have spoken up for the profession in the last year. Through our leadership, partnerships and inspirational College community, we have already seen a shift in recognition and profile of our College – evidenced through increasing
engagement on our website and social media channels, awareness among political parties, media enquiries, and partnership opportunities.
As we now look to the year ahead we will continue this work, while also planning to further develop our role in the key areas of leadership and non-clinical skills development, to ensure that we are the Go To Royal College for all those working and influencing healthcare.
In closing I would like to thank our College Council, Fellows and members for their ongoing commitment and contributions and our College staff for their unwavering support, and to my colleagues at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, without whose help I would be unable to fulfil this role.