Dr Eddie Morris writes to the membership…
Well, here we are – my last blog. Much as I like writing, and much as I knew I would be writing to you as your President, I never intended to serialise my Presidency in the way that my blogs have. Of course, no-one expected COVID to come along, but as many of you have said to me, it has shaped my term of office. This blog was one of many things that was born out of the pandemic.
You never got to hear about my first few months as President BC (Before COVID). I started my term on Friday 13 December 2019 just as we moved to Union Street, and it all felt a bit of a whirlwind; Christmas happened and then the Officers and I settled into working together. As you might recall, it was about Thursday 30 January 2020 that we heard of the novel coronavirus in China, and then Italy.
After a late night in the middle of February pondering what the College should do and who we should do it with, I sketched a straw man and then assembled the first team. Combined with other College Reps, some keen Fellows and Members, College staff and the now legendary COVID Fellows, we set to work bringing the paltry early evidence together into a summary of what we knew relevant to our specialty and how we should look after pregnant women, and also how COVID affected many other elements of women’s health and our careers in O&G.
We all burned the midnight oil and in less than 10 days from conception we published online version 1.0 of the RCOG/RCM COVID guidance. The guideline has been a living document, as we promised it would be from the start, and is now in version 15, with 16 just around the corner. This guideline has been visited nearly 7 million times now and you all have been at pains to tell me you have used it, wherever in the world you are. It is the RCOG’s most accessed piece of work, ever, and the team and I are massively proud of it and the role we have been able to play.
It was about mid-March 2020 that we settled into a regular routine of keeping the guideline up to date and then, of course, lockdown happened. At that point all of us realised we were in a very worrying situation and I felt at that time that writing to you, and sharing my experiences and any intelligence that I could, might help you with what you were going through. And so, this blog was born.
What I hadn’t accounted for was no sooner than I had put digital pen to paper that I would go down with COVID, so I found myself writing to you for the very first time, describing my personal encounter with COVID. Revisiting that blog I see I wrote:
“I reflected personally whilst unwell just how little control this virus gives us all – whether as patients, doctors and even the health system as a whole. And I am sure this lack of control of our own destiny and that of others is a factor that is troubling so many of us during these difficult times.”
That phrase still means as much today, especially as we now enter a period of uncertainty as we are definitely seeing a relatively small wave of COVID but with a strong wave of flu, and in children, there are definite concerns about RSV.
Since this very first blog, I initially wrote weekly, especially when the pace of change was so rapid, and then I’ve sent you blogs monthly ever since.
As I have said in recent blogs I have been travelling the UK and various parts of the world where I’ve managed to catch up with so many of you and exchange our pandemic stories. I have been flattered by the fact that so many of you have read the blogs, and enjoyed their content – a few of you have also said I should assemble them into an anthology!
Last month I thanked the College Staff for their help and assistance over the three years my Officers and I have been at the helm. This time I would like to thank my Officers. Sue Ward, VP for Education, Jo Mountfield, VP for Workforce and Professionalism, Tim Draycott, VP for Clinical Quality, Pat O’Brien, VP for Membership and finally Ranee Thakar, Senior VP for Global and of course she is our President-Elect, taking over from me on Friday 9 December. You have all been absolutely fantastic as Officers. You have performed your roles over and above and our achievements together leave not just a fantastic legacy for women’s health, but also a College that has not just responded to a massive global threat, but also has modernised, streamlined and made lasting relationships that really places the College as the ‘go to’ place for women’s health.
Finally, though, I owe you all huge thanks. Whether you are part of the 2,500 trainees, SAS/LED docs or consultants around the world who volunteer their time to add expertise to all we do at the RCOG, or if you have done what we have all done during the pandemic and concentrated on delivering the highest quality care to the women and families we look after, you have all been amazing. This pandemic-tinged Presidency has needed great teams around me and I knew you were all there. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you.