Influencing Health Policy

We are health sector thought leaders. Our Fellows are an important source of clinical and health expertise to policy makers. We are actively engaged in policy deliberations across the range of issues such as e-cigarettes, medicinal marijuana, pain management and obesity.

Fellows of the College are frequently asked to provide their perspective through Government committees as well as provide submissions to inquiries.

Our policy and advocacy work ensures the voices of physicians and paediatricians are heard in the health policy debate.

If you want to find out more, contact the Policy & Advocacy Unit on policy@racp.edu.au for information on any of the policy matters listed here, or visit the Policy and Advocacy Library for related policy documents. 

E-cigarettes

Over the recent years, e-cigarettes have undergone a rapid growth in use the world over. The increasing share of e-cigarette market has attracted national and international attention, yet there remains a lack of clear and robust evidence on their efficacy as aids in smoking cessation and their long-term health effects.

The e-cigarette regulations have undergone major changes nationally and internationally over the last few years and are increasingly under scrutiny and debate. The RACP policy on e-cigarettes led by the E-cigarette reference group, was released in May 2018, which sets out the RACP's position and evidence-based policy recommendations.

Links to the RACP policy and recent submissions on e-cigarettes are listed below:

Medicinal cannabis

Scientific evidence to support the use of medicinal cannabis is limited. We support clinical trials being conducted in Australia. The trials will establish a clinical evidence base to drive decision making on the indications, dosages, and modes of administration for cannabinoid medicines.

We are establishing a reference group for Fellows and trainees on medicinal cannabis to contribute and respond on this matter.

Recent submissions, position statements and media:

Obesity

Australia and New Zealand have some of the highest obesity rates in the OECD. It is a major public health concern relevant to every RACP specialty. The New Zealand Policy and Advocacy Committee (NZ PAC) is leading our action on this topic and to date has:

  • Initiated work following agreement by all NZ Committees that obesity is a policy priority
  • Members of the NZ Committee have met with the Minister of Health to address the topic
  • NZ PAC has developed measures that describe goals to advocate for change in the area of obesity
  • The New Zealand Paediatric and Child Health Division Committee has successfully campaigned to remove sugary drinks in District Health Boards nationwide so they are no longer sold in hospitals
 The NZ PAC will continue leading on policy activities related to obesity.

Pain management

Pain is a critical issue affecting one in five Australians. The use of medications, and in particular opioids, is a significant concern. They are often not effective for chronic pain and in some cases can lead to addiction.

We are actively promoting best practice for pain management to improve patient outcomes. This has involved more training opportunities for members, endorsing appropriate pain management guidelines, making submissions on regulation of pain medications, and providing expert opinion on pain management.

e-health

E-health allows health care practitioners to act on accurate and up to date health care information when providing care to patients, and leads to improvements in the quality and efficiency of health care delivery.

The RACP has a reference group for Fellows and trainees interested and engaged with e-health to improve our capacity to contribute and respond to e-health matters. To join, please contact policy@racp.edu.au

Recent submissions, position statements and media:
- RACP submission: Development of a Framework for Secondary Use of My Health Record Data (PDF 233KB)

Telehealth

Telehealth is the use of videoconferencing technologies to conduct a medical consultation and is usually used for patients located in outer regional, rural and remote locations.

Research has shown that both patients and physicians can benefit from using telehealth, and so the RACP has developed a series of resources to help physicians use telehealth in their practices.  In addition a range of case studies are available that describe physician’s experiences in setting up and running telehealth services in their clinic or practice, how they overcame the challenges, and the benefits they and their patients are experiencing. Telehealth consultations can be conducted between a specialist and patient in the presence of their general practitioner or other health worker. Alternatively, they can be conducted with no medical support at the patient end.

Telehealth significantly reduces the barriers commonly experienced by patients in accessing specialist care such as time, travel and cost. Whilst Telehealth is not designed to replace initial face to face consultations, it can be used to enhance and simplify ongoing specialist services to patients whose access might otherwise be limited.

For further information on the RACP’s Telehealth resources visit www.racptelehealth.com.au

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