Dr Eddie Morris writes to the membership…
Communiques such as this at this time of year are often written to address key reflections on the year past and hopes for the year ahead.
Whilst so much has happened to all of us in our work and home life, I feel that the privilege I have of writing this message to you should be used to ask all of you to remember those around the world who have either died or been injured as a consequence, direct or otherwise, of events this year. I know of many families of colleagues in our specialty who have been affected. You are very much in my thoughts, and those of all of us at the RCOG.
The forthcoming Christmas and New Year period is undoubtedly going to be like no other in our lifetimes. It will stretch our patience at work and our family life at home. So many of us have had our plans altered or completely cancelled by recent events. I know from colleagues around the country and the world that events are being greeted with a mix of frustration, resignation but still largely with good grace.
The appearance of a possible third wave involving an as yet incompletely understood variant of COVID-19 has so many similarities to the position we found ourselves in during March this year. Whilst the potential for pressure on health systems remains huge, I do think the situation is fundamentally different for those of us working in obstetrics and gynaecology.
In England the focus on maternity safety following recent reports has achieved the attention of the Government and at this point the RCOG are working hard to guide them in their ask of us as a community. I know their recent requests in England have placed us all under further pressure at what is a very difficult time of year. I am grateful to you for rising to the challenge while the Officers and I work with NHSE/I to support the workforce planning and funding challenges that go with these instructions to us.
You will recall that in late February when I set up the guidance cell it was driven by a global thirst for data and information from health professionals, women and families alike. We recruited experts in the field, worked with specialist societies and other Royal Colleges, and numerous trainees and consultants volunteered their time to work with us. We ended up with a world-beating set of resources that in total have been viewed or downloaded nearly 5 million times. I am immensely grateful to everyone who has helped us at any point in this process. We’ve never done anything like this before. I am hugely proud of this achievement and how it has truly helped women around the world.
We all live in a world at the moment that is so hard to predict. I miss the demands of a predictable, busy job with a sense of routine that much of my career has come with. Certainly the life of a President is far from routine but I know from my own Trust and your stories to me that so many of you yearn for that normality. My main hope for next year is that we do achieve some sense of routine and clearly the route to that will be through an effective vaccine.
I am amongst the lucky few to have received the first dose of the vaccine. My hope is that in the UK and around the world all of us delivering front-line care will at some time very soon be vaccinated so that we feel protected as we go about our vital work. As a College and as part of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges we will continue to work to ensure that vaccines reach those who need it most. You can help yourself and the efficiency of the system by signing up for local hospital hub last minute vaccination systems. Many hospitals have set these up for short notice vaccinations to use up the remaining doses from a thawed batch to ensure we don’t waste such a precious resource. That is how I got my vaccine and I see it as a great way to do my bit!
Once again, this has been a year of unexpected and frankly unwanted superlatives courtesy of the pandemic. Together we have achieved so much and I will be eternally grateful to you for your part in all of this. As always please contact me or any of the Officers if there are things you feel we can do.
In the meantime I hope you have an enjoyable Christmas period and that 2021 will prove to be healthier and happier for us all.