College Council Communiqué October 2020

The Board of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (the College) established the College Council in 2015 to act as its peak advisory body on strategic and cross-specialty issues. In this capacity, the College Council responds to issues the Board refers to it, as well as raising issues to the Board that the College Council feels need consideration.

Read the highlights of key issues discussed as part of the 03-2020 meeting, held on Thursday 29 October 2020.

The Council acknowledged the extensive work of trainees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members recognised the enormous amount of work and sacrifice trainees had recently endured, particularly in Victoria and all other states, territories, and countries. The Council expressed their thanks and respect for the strength shown by trainees during this time.

Appointment to offices

I am pleased to advise that the Council resolved to approve appointments to the College Council Executive Committee (Executive Committee) at this meeting. I welcome Associate Professor Catherine O’Connor as Council Deputy Chair and Professor Catherine Choong as Executive Committee member. I was also formally recommended to the Board for appointment as Council Chair. Associate Professor O’Connor and Professor Choong join me and Dr Tane Taylor on the Executive Committee. I look forward to Chairing the Council and working more closely with Members of the Executive Committee to progress the important work of the Council.

Council composition: CEC membership and trainee representation

The Council composition has been expanded to include a permanent position for the Chair of the College Education Committee (CEC) and increased positions available for trainees, from 2 to 4. The Council welcomes the opportunity to keep a permanent link between the CEC and the Council alive and to strengthen the relationship between the Council and trainees.

College strategy

Council members provided feedback to the Board on strategic priorities for the College prior to a final plan being submitted to the Board in December 2020. The Council looks forward to continuing its involvement in the College’s strategy consolidation for 2021, as required.

RACP Constitution review

The Council has been asked to consider its role in the Constitution and in College governance, including the Council’s relationship with the Board. The Council welcomes the opportunity to continue to be involved in these discussions to ensure any relevant changes to the College structure continue to best serve members and reflect an alignment between purpose and strategy. There will be wider consultation with all College members as part of this review and I encourage all members to engage with this.

Regional and rural physicians project

Council members provided feedback on the proposed draft regional and rural physician project plan now that the terms of reference for the Working Group have been endorsed. The Working Group will work with the CEC to consider how to better promote and support physician training in rural settings.

Physician of the future

The impact of COVID-19 on physicians and their work has been evident in a range of ways, and Council members agreed that telehealth was a good example of vast growth during the pandemic. The Council will continue to discuss the physician of the future and monitor areas of change and progression requiring action from the College.

Rethinking the use of the term ‘vulnerable’

The Council is exploring the use of the term ‘vulnerable’ with other College Bodies and the Senior Leadership team. Council members agree that rethinking the term vulnerable could become controversial for a range of reasons, but that using clear and consistent language among physicians and the wider industry is key to correct messaging and communication. Further discussion and consultation will occur.

Reporting and communications

Council members agree that it is important to keep the communication lines between the Board and Council active and consistent. Moving forward, a summary of outcomes from Council meetings will be provided to the Board for their feedback on a regular basis. A similar initiative will be implemented for Council members to strengthen the link between the work of the Council and nominating bodies of its members. A template, including a summary of Council meeting outcomes and space for Council members’ personal comments, will be provided to Council members following each meeting. The template is designed as an optional tool to assist Council members with reporting back to their representative bodies.

The next meeting of the College Council is set to take place Thursday 18 March 2021. The College Council Executive Committee will meet in the interim on Thursday 18 February 2021 to continue to progress College Council business.

Professor Nicholas Buckmaster
Deputy Chair, College Council
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