2021 Annual Review: Chief Executive’s statement
Supporting our membership
We will stay connected to our membership, listening, and responding so that we are equipped to support you as you face the challenges and opportunities presented by the NHS in the coming years.
The year 2021 saw the College, its membership, staff, volunteers, and clinical leadership, respond and adapt to challenges caused by the pandemic. It was a pivotal year for the College as we adjusted to new ways of working, moved to align ourselves further with best practice in our sector and improved our decision-making. Throughout, our aim was to be accountable, open, and transparent with our members.
This reporting period starts in summer 2020, just three months after the UK started to feel the effects of the pandemic. It stretches to the summer of the following year. During those months, vaccines were in development, lockdowns were in progress and the people of the UK and the world were living with pressure on lives and on healthcare systems.
Many professionals in our specialties were redeployed to look after people with COVID-19 who needed critical care, working in highly pressured conditions while also balancing commitments to their own families and careers. Many of our clinical colleagues found themselves in very different roles. A member survey in December 2020 revealed the impact on wellbeing as much as on physical health, and as a College we have renewed our focus on this important aspect.
All this change to maintain consistency and flux to ensure stability for our membership has been delivered by an extremely resilient and dedicated College staff body.
During that time, the College continued to deliver exams, moving at pace to an online format that brought with it benefits, but also challenges. It was imperative that we continued to deliver exams for our Anaesthetists in Training, and despite the uncertainty posed by the pandemic 3,000 candidates took their exams with us in the last quarter of 2020, in the form of five online written, two virtual OSCE and four virtual SOE examinations.
Our Education and Events teams also changed from predominantly face-to-face to virtual events and courses.
For the majority of the year under review, College staff continued to work in a hybrid fashion, coming into the College to meet members, Council members and colleagues in those brief months between lockdowns. The Facilities, IT and People teams all worked hard to ensure that staff were able to work safely and effectively during the year, despite changing regulations and months of upheaval.
All this change to maintain consistency and flux to ensure stability for our membership has been delivered by an extremely resilient and dedicated College staff body and I take this opportunity to thank them for all their hard work and agility.
Our membership numbers continued to grow in 2021, finishing the reporting period with a combined College and Faculties membership of 24,829 people across the three specialties of anaesthesia, intensive care and pain medicine.
The College amplified the voices of its membership in the media, explaining the healthcare response to the pandemic and at the highest levels in the NHS in highlighting pressures and solutions to a growing workforce crisis.
While our Five-Year Commitment itself was published in January 2022, conversations with staff, our Council, our Lay Committee and others started early in 2021.
Throughout the process, the steering group clearly outlined the case for member support and advocacy, the continued delivery of high standards and quality patient care, the recruitment and retention of our anaesthetic workforce, and the reinforcement of the perioperative care agenda at the heart of the College. Importantly, the Five-Year Commitment has a set of values that will govern how we act and what we do. They describe a personality of being open and responsive, innovative and progressive, just and fair, and caring and supportive. Everyone we spoke to in 2021 agreed that our values should underpin how we deliver our strategic priorities and drive our behaviours.
Just about everything that the College has achieved in 2021 can be attributed to the commitment of staff working in partnership with clinicians, volunteers, partner organisations, our Council, and our Board of Trustees, to find ways to be by the side of our Fellows and Members in these complex times. We learned much during that time, and our Five-Year Commitment includes being adept in supporting our Fellows and Members whatever the circumstances. We will stay connected to our membership, listening, and responding so that we are equipped to support you as you face the challenges and opportunities presented by the NHS in the coming years.