28 April 2023

Connections | conference | concerns

Connecting with each other is so important. It gives us a sense of belonging, shared values and learning – and Med 2023 delivered on all those things – and more. The theme of sustainability hit the nail on the head, and while we may not currently have a quick fix for many of the issues we face, that shouldn’t stop us from making a concerted effort to change our behaviours.

The RCP itself is now putting sustainability and healthcare front and centre. This was evident at the conference: we were encouraged to walk to the venue, offered a plant-based menu, and given no paper other than a recyclable name badge. The college also launched a new position paper setting out its recommendations for change.

While I’m afraid I didn’t attempt to make a smoothie drink using pedal power, I did enjoy a windswept walk around Regent’s Park, led by Ian Bullock, the RCP’s chief executive, and I enjoyed several interesting chats with doctors-in-training about their career options (of course, I was keen to promote Wales as a great country in which to train!) You can still book to view the entire conference online, with content available until 30 June 2023.

Medical care – driving change

The newly launched Medical Care – driving change resource hub spotlights the theme of sustainability, with excellent articles on the climate crisis as a health crisis and sustainable quality improvement. I am also very proud to say that the eco-friendly inhalers initiative spearheaded by Dr Simon Barry in Cardiff was mentioned during at least three lectures at Med 2023!

As Medical Care – driving change is in its infancy, the team is keen to receive article suggestions or theme ideas; could you even volunteer to be a ‘guest editor’? I would be delighted if we could showcase some creative and innovative Wales-based projects – editor-in-chief Dr Dan Smith is keen to hear from you. Hilary Williams, our vice president-elect for Wales and I will start the ball rolling with a co-written blog. On a similar note, the Senedd Health and Social Care Committee has launched a new inquiry into how the Welsh NHS supports people living with chronic conditions. We’d love to hear your thoughts as we put together an RCP response: if you have work you’d like us to highlight, or feedback you’d like us to include, please get in touch with

All change at NHS Wales

Earlier this month, the new NHS Wales Executive was officially launched to little fanfare. However, this is the beginning of planned change that will affect almost all medical specialties: new strategic clinical networks and quality statements will be expected to drive improvement nationally and influence change locally. If you don’t know much about the new arrangements yet, I’d highly recommend you take a look at our recent paper, Driving change together, which was endorsed by 22 organisations across Wales, and sets out the case for genuine clinical leadership in the new system.

As you can imagine, working with other royal colleges is a vital part of my job. The RCP chairs a multi-professional advisory group that represents thousands of members working across medicine, nursing, social work and the allied health professions in Wales – by working collectively to raise awareness and share messages, we hope to make a bigger impact on decision-makers and politicians. Earlier this year, we held a workshop with Health Education and Improvement Wales, the summary and findings from which are now available for you to read. Do take a look.

Valuing our SAS colleagues

Once again, I’m delighted to say that our engagement with staff, specialty and associate specialist (SAS) doctors continues. We recently held another national network meeting online, and we have speakers lined up from the BMA, GMC and HEIW for our autumn get-together. I’m encouraging the Welsh Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to do more in this space, as I feel so strongly that SAS doctors are the backbone of so many of our services, and we must do more to support them. If you’d like to find out more about what we’ve been up to, read our latest network meeting summary.

New Senedd inquiry into chronic conditions

The Senedd Health and Social Care Committee has launched an inquiry on supporting people with chronic conditions. If you would like to inform the RCP’s written response, please get in touch with us before Tuesday 9 May by emailing

Moondance Cancer Initiative clinical reference group

Moondance Cancer Initiative is establishing an expert clinical advisory group that will include diagnostics, oncology, surgery and primary care. If you are interested, visit their website to find out more or email

Let’s not waste!

The Bevan Commission is launching a new initiative on reducing waste in the health and care sector. To find out more, join the webinar launch of the ‘Let’s not waste’ programme on 19 April.

Invitation to share views and experience of NHS workforce policies

Diverse Cymru have been commissioned by Welsh government and NHS Wales to carry out an audit of the All-Wales NHS Workforce Policies through an anti-racist lens. This work was identified as a priority action in the Anti-racist Wales Action Plan. They are inviting Black, Asian, and minoritised ethnic people who work in NHS Wales organisations to join a focus group or respond to a survey about their experiences. To find out more, visit the Diverse Cymru website.

While this month’s blog has been a bit more upbeat – maybe because the sun has been out long enough for me to get some serious gardening done and to help with the lambing – I have been saddened by reports of continued harassment and sexist abuse in some surgical specialties. Back in the 1980s, sexist behaviour in medicine was rife, and I experienced my fair share, but surely we should be past that in the 21st century. This has led me to wonder what it’s like for younger women in medicine these days; I know there was a recent piece of work done with cardiology trainees that found that sexism was still an issue, but I’m not sure what else is out there.

Sexism does not have a place in modern society, especially in medicine – let’s tackle it together.

Stay safe and take care of yourselves.

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