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Dr Hilary Cass


Consultant in Paediatric Disability, London, and Past-President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Dr Hilary Cass, a Consultant in Paediatric Disability at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, almost became a GP. Hilary attended the City of London School for Girls and then trained at London’s Royal Free Hospital.

She qualified in 1982 and embarked on a GP vocational training scheme but was inspired by Max Friedman, a Consultant Paediatrician, who sparked Hilary’s interest in paediatrics to change her career. Her best career decision was not to have a career plan. She went for new opportunities and challenges as they presented, which led her to complete her higher specialist training in the disability field. She has held clinical Consultant roles in three tertiary centres. Hilary strives to develop inclusive, multi-professional models of care for children and young people, which cut across various care sectors and to empower doctors in training to take control of their lives and the environment in which they work. After all, junior doctors are the best engineers of the future NHS. Over a fifteen-year period, she was a Consultant in Paediatric Disability at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), where she also held a number of senior management and education roles including Director of Postgraduate Medical Education and Deputy Medical Director. She ran a highly successful programme, called Snakes and Ladders, which used role players to re-enact the ups and downs of the patient journey and teach clinical governance and improvement skills to staff across the hospital. The series culminated in a book for both patients and professionals. It was at GOSH that Hilary raised concerns about patient safety, which led to her premature departure from the Trust. She has learnt that even a really painful and traumatic experience has value. “It becomes part of who you are, teaches you how to cope better with adversity on future occasions, and ultimately makes you a better doctor and a better leader,” she says. Hilary’s clinical interests include children with autistic spectrum disorders, cognitive impairment secondary to epilepsy and the management of children with multiple disabilities. She also runs a national service for children with Rett syndrome and

has carried out research on developmental regression and autistic spectrum disorders. In yet another twist and turn in her career, Hilary focused on medical education as well as her clinical work. She set up a junior doctor leadership team – DocReps – which put frontline trainees in charge of many of the innovations within the hospital. In 2008 Hilary established the Paediatric Palliative Care Service at Evelina London, and served as President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) from 2012-2015, calling for new ways of delivering care in ‘child health hubs’, for all GPs to be trained in child health and for fewer, more specialist centres of care. She has overseen the development of pioneering resources such as the MindEd e-portal, to support all professionals in identifying the signs of mental ill health in children. Hilary is Senior Clinical Advisor to Health Education England and continues to hold a series of education and management roles, both at Evelina and within the London School of Paediatrics (LSP). She is Trustee of Together for Short Lives, the children’s palliative care charity, and a Governor at De Montfort University where she is involved in a programme of work with some of the poorest children and families in India’s slums. In March 2017 she became Chair of the British Academy of Childhood Disability. She is most proud of setting up the first ‘hospital at night’ team in a model that has since been replicated across the UK, and establishing the Trainee Committee in the LSP thereby empowering the doctors to take control of much of the school’s activities. In 2015 Hilary was awarded an OBE for services to child health. The same year she was given an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Nursing. * Favourite Book: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese * One object Hilary cannot live without: An alarm clock that gets increasingly verbally abusive if I don’t get up

Hilary’s advice to junior doctors is “Be yourself, trust yourself, and if you get the chance – take time out.”


Medical Woman | Spring 2017

Medical Woman – Magazine Centenary Issue, April 2017  

The magazine for the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF), the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK which aims to promot...