AFOEM eBulletin – 11 February 2022
Happy New Year to all and welcome to the first President’s Post for 2022. I hope you have been able to enjoy a relaxing summer break after a very challenging 2021. I am sure we are all hoping for a return to a greater degree of normality and less unpredictability in the coming year.
As we enter the third year of the pandemic, the omicron variant has been sweeping through all states and territories of Australia, except for Western Australia, which has postponed its border opening to allow more time to prepare for the inevitable increase in cases. In the other states and territories, it looks like the peak of cases has passed and hospitalisations are gradually reducing, so some promising signs, although the death toll continues to mount. In Aotearoa New Zealand, case numbers have been slowly increasing over the first month of 2022, but as yet there has not been the rapid escalation of cases which has occurred throughout most of Australia, mainly due to maintaining strict controls in place and keeping the border closed.
In Australia, workers and workplaces are again at the epicentre of the latest twists and turns of the omicron variant of COVID-19. Workforce shortages across a wide range of industries, due to a rapid increase in cases and the need for isolation of worker close contacts, have had a major impact on supply of a range of products. This has led to urgent changes to isolation rules for close contacts and ramping up of the use of rapid antigen tests for workers, but unfortunately these tests have been in short supply. While pressure has been slowly reducing in the healthcare sector, aged care remains a major challenge. The highly infectious omicron variant and lagging booster rates in both residents and workers has led to outbreaks in more than half of the residential aged care facilities in Australia and is a major driver of the increase in daily deaths this year.
For a great overview on the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers, I encourage you to read a recent article published in Respirology, titled ‘COVID-19 infection and the broader impacts of the pandemic on healthcare workers’. Warren Harrex, the AFOEM President-Elect, is a co-author on this paper, which can be freely downloaded from the website. Occupational medicine principles are a major feature of this paper and are very applicable to other industry sectors with a high risk of COVID-19.
I’d also like to draw your attention to an upcoming webinar on COVID-19 being held by the AFOEM NSW Regional Committee on Saturday, 19 February from 10am to 12pm (AEDT). ‘Brave New Normal World: COVID-19 where to from here?’ will be hosted by David Crocker and the speakers are AFOEM Fellows Cath Kelaher and Ian Cheng, with the addition of public health physician Steve Corbett. Not to be missed!
The ANZSOM Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM), for which AFOEM is the scientific partner, is also drawing near. The ASM is to be held in Brisbane from 20 to 23 March 2022 and will provide a great opportunity to participate in a high-quality program covering a wide range of occupational and environmental medicine topics, as well as workplace visits. Don’t delay in registering and make the most of the opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues in Brisbane - something we have had limited opportunity to do over the past two years. Further details on the ASM program and how to register can be found here.
The 2022 RACP Congress is also on track and will be held in Melbourne and Auckland from 12 to 14 May 2022. The organisation of the AFOEM part of the Congress is being ably led by Amanda Sillcock and the program is now available on the Congress website. A highlight of the Congress will be the Ferguson-Glass Oration to be given by Professor Karen Walker-Bone. Karen trained in rheumatology and has a very strong track record in work-related musculoskeletal diseases. She recently relocated to Melbourne from the UK to succeed me as Head of the Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health. There will also be an AFOEM dinner on Wednesday, 11 May. Planning is also well advanced for the Annual Training Meeting for registrars to be held after the Congress from 14 to 16 May.
Finally, you will have seen recently that nominations have been called for several AFOEM positions, including for AFOEM President-elect, Council members and Regional Committee members. I’d like to encourage you to consider nominating for one of these important positions and contribute to the important work and activities of AFOEM.
Professor Malcolm Sim
The RACP Lead Fellow, Education Learning and Assessment is an integral role within the Education Learning and Assessment team. The successful applicant will provide leadership, advice and support for the College’s education program across the membership.
About the role
Reporting to the Executive General Manager, Education Learning and Assessment, you will play a significant role, providing physician leadership and supporting the College’s education and assessment strategy, growing the next generation of supervisors and examiners. You will strengthen and expand the recognition of the key roles training supervisors and examiners play in assuring the high quality of our training programs across both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.
Help to shape the future direction of the College’s education program by delivering a physician’s perspective and represent our membership base. You will be a trusted adviser to the Senior Leadership Team and the College Education Committee, which is currently progressing a significant program of educational renewal for all 63 College programs.
This high-profile role is ideal if you are looking to expand your career beyond clinical delivery into medical education and impact the future of the College service delivery.
This opportunity is for a 12-month contract with part-time hours of 15 to 22.5 hours per week.
Applications close on Friday, 11 March 2022.
More information about this new role is available on the RACP career webpage.
Obituary: Dr Heather Hunter Campbell
Heather was born in Scotland but grew up in Durban, South Africa. She studied medicine at the University of Cape Town, graduating in 1980. Heather was touched by the many diverse injuries she saw as a medical student in a local industry placement. She observed a broad range of management approaches and cultures involved in addressing health and safety concerns. This sparked her early interest in health and safety in a work environment.
In 1981, Heather married Lucio Della Martina, a young chemical engineer in the energy sector. Her husband’s work led to a move to the UK in 1985. After settling into a new country with two young daughters, she worked as a general practitioner in the UK while completing her Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
After a few years of grey skies and drizzle, so far removed from the idyllic beaches of their youth, the family relocated to Melbourne, Australia in 1991. Once again, Heather juggled life as a young mother of two, while working as a Medical Registrar in the Victorian public hospital system. In the mid-1990’s, her husband was transferred to Perth where the family happily settled down.
Heather first worked in occupational medicine with Prime Health in Osborne Park between 1998 and 2000. She was accepted as a trainee in the AFOEM Training Program. She completed postgraduate studies, including a Postgraduate Diploma of Health Science (Occupational Medicine, Health and Safety) in 2002, and a Master of Health Science (Occupational Medicine, Health and Safety) degree in 2004.
Heather excelled and was awarded the Dean Southgate prize for the top graduating student of her year. When she became a Fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in 2003, she was one of two female occupational physicians in the entire state of Western Australia.
Heather was active in the AFOEM Faculty, generously contributing as Chair of the WA Regional Committee, Director of Training, Examiner, and member of the Faculty Teaching and Learning Committee. She was a highly respected supervisor and mentor to many budding occupational physicians in WA.
Heather had a busy private practice and consulted to the public sector and to leading mining and energy companies including Alcoa, BHP, BP Refinery and Woodside Petroleum. Her longest association was with WorkSafe WA where she shared the role of occupational physician with medical colleagues for 14 years (2002-2015; 2020-2021).
Heather enjoyed her time with WorkSafe where she used to visit workplaces with the inspectors and relished the opportunity to make a difference. She made significant contributions to the overhaul of the WorkSafe WA Health Surveillance system, including revisions of the health surveillance questionnaires and guidelines for medical practitioners. During that period, an opportunity arose for the WorkSafe medical team to consult across the Resources Safety Division of the Department of Mines and Petroleum for three years, including a review of the mineworkers’ health surveillance system. In the latter years of her career, she was engaged in medicolegal assessments at Peregrine Medical and MLCOA.
In 2014, when she was diagnosed with cancer, she reduced her workload to devote more time to family and travel. Heather managed the many health challenges that came her way with privacy, a cheerful resilience and quiet inner strength. Her view was that life must go on despite the challenges.
She continued to maintain a strong connection to the medical community, and never truly exited the scene. She enjoyed the company of friends and close colleagues through catch-ups for a chat and a laugh over coffee or lunch.
By 2019, Heather realised she missed medicine, and that medicine was an integral part of her being. She did the hard work to regain her registration with the Medical Board and returned to work at MLCOA. She was soon back at WorkSafe in 2020 on a project reviewing stone workers who were at risk of silicosis from processing artificial stone benchtops. She played a key role in the revision of the WorkSafe WA Health Surveillance Guidelines for silica and arsenic, which were completed prior to her stopping work in August 2021.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, 15 September 2021, Heather passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family. A memorial service was held on 29 September 2021 at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Subiaco.
Heather is fondly remembered by her friends and colleagues who appreciated her friendship, wise counsel, kindness and wicked sense of humour. She was warm, vibrant, and intelligent. She brought cheer to any company. As a physician, Heather was a true professional. She was knowledgeable and caring, with high standards and strong principles and ethics. Her presence in our company will be sorely missed.
We would like to pass on our sincere condolences to Heather’s husband, Lucio Della Martina and her daughters Catriona and Olivia.
Submitted by Dr Evelyn Lee, FAFOEM
Congratulations to the 29 RACP members recognised in the 2022 Australia Day and Aotearoa New Zealand New Year Honours lists. We also congratulate our trainee Dr Daniel Nour who was awarded the 2022 Young Australian of the Year.
These awards highlight the outstanding work RACP members do and the importance of that work in local, national, and international communities.
View the full list of RACP award recipients.
This series provides insight into the careers of retired and actively serving occupational physicians. The interview series has supported a collaboration amongst our peers in developing projects on compiling the history of occupational medicine. On this occasion, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Roger Lai.
Dr Farhan Shahzad, Consultant Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sydney
Farhan: I warmly welcome Dr Roger Lai to our interview series. Roger, please tell us about yourself, personal life, and training.
Roger: I grew up in Narrogin a small wheatbelt town in Western Australia and was supported by my parents to study medicine at UWA. I did not enjoy hospital medicine so when a registrar suggested occupational medicine during a break in ICU at 2am, I took up an occupational medicine rotation and never looked back.
Intending to start training, I moved to Wollongong to work for IOH which was associated with the Port Kembla steelworks. My wife was pregnant with our first son and when he was born in Wollongong, my wife and I really struggled with the social isolation, so we returned to Perth. Shortly after, Dr John Low asked me to take on his in-house consulting at Australia Post. I loved working with the multidisciplinary in-house team and access to the workplace. After I obtained my Fellowship in 2008, I took on in-house jobs as often as possible. Currently, I in-house consult four days a week for South Metropolitan Health, WA Police, and The Department of Education. I continue private practice with Dr Low one day a week.
I also serve on the executive for ANZSOM and Doctors’ Health Advisory Service WA (DHASWA).
My interest in doctors’ health was partly driven by my own mental health challenges including attempted suicide. I was also in roles where my caseload largely consisted of mental health presentations.
I had the privilege of contributing to Royal Perth Hospital’s well regarded Junior Doctor Wellbeing Program. With my occupational physician hat, I helped bring together clinical and non-clinical stakeholders. We managed to get funding out of the Executive by speaking their language and by putting in place solid KPIs to support the ongoing funding of our program. I am no longer involved with that program, but it’s only grown larger, rolling out peer support training to other hospitals.
Farhan: I appreciate that you shared your personal life challenges. It’s very deep, personal, and private. What role do you think we, as Occupational Physicians, play?
Roger: We can engage clinical staff and healthcare managers by speaking their ‘language’. Having a medical background and understanding how to engage our colleagues but also bringing a perspective of occupational health and safety, hierarchy of controls, and that staff wellbeing is good business. We can bridge that divide between clinical and non-clinical staff to improve the healthcare culture and safe systems of work.
Occupational physicians are often good role models for doctor wellbeing with historically low burnout rates as many started training by having the courage to do something a bit different and that fit better with their circumstances.
Farhan: Tell us about your day-to-day practice.
Roger: I see workers for ‘fitness for work’ and assist with case management. It’s mostly about creating a safe space for these workers to understand what the problems are and being able to facilitate solutions. I see many stressed workers who have performance concerns but when you get to the root of it, it’s often a difficulty with communication and trust. The worker’s valid health concerns are not heard, and the worker is not understanding what management is requiring from them also.
Farhan: What’s your legacy and what would you like to plan for in the future?
Roger: My proudest achievement is making a contribution to the Junior Doctor Wellbeing Program. I am currently Assistant Director of Training (WA). This is an opportunity to support and reduce stigma for up-and-coming trainees and consultants by being open about my own challenges.
Farhan: What message do you have for younger trainees and colleagues, in particular, within our Faculty?
Roger: Different Fellows have different ideas about what an occupational physician should be - whether that be Chief Medical Officers, medicolegal experts, injury management consultants, OSH consultants or epidemiologists. My message is that occupational medicine is a very broad specialty and that you will find a niche. Tread your own path, be kind to others, and have the courage to be kind to yourself.
Divisional examination readiness online learning resource
The Divisional Examination Readiness online learning resource has been designed to help Basic Trainees understand what to expect and how to prepare for the Divisional Written and Clinical Examinations. It provides information, resources and study tools, as well as Paediatrics and Adult Medicine demonstration videos of short and long cases.
The 2022 AFOEM ATM will take place from Saturday, 14 May to Monday, 16 May 2022.
The AFOEM ATM provides trainees from the Faculty with invaluable experience and knowledge, enabling them to learn, share, and network.
Registrations will be on the RACP website shortly.
AFOEM Members interested in reading the IOMSC 2021 summary of actions can view a letter from the Executive Committee of IOMSC on the ROC.
A survey of international approaches to OEM education and certification (in collaboration with the University of Maryland School of Medicine) will be published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in early 2022.
Applications for the first half of the training year and the full training year are due by Tuesday, 15 February 2022. Advanced Trainees are required to login to the AT Online Registration System to submit their applications.
If you are facing issues with access, please open a new window in Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome browser and go to the RACP website. Log in using your RACP ID with multi-factor authentication (MFA) and copy the link to AT Online Registration into your browser.
Advanced training requirements for 2021
As a result of the disruptions caused by the escalating COVID-19 situation, trainees in Australia have been granted an additional two weeks to complete annual program requirements. The extended deadline is Tuesday, 15 February 2022. Please refer to the program requirements for your specialty and submit all requirements by this deadline.
Please note that the way you complete Advanced Training Supervisor’s Reports (ATSR) has changed. ATSR’s are now available for Advanced Trainees in Australia. To access the report, you need your RACP ID and multi-factor authentication. Find out more about the online ATSR pilot here.
The Supervisor Professional Development Program (SPDP) is a high-quality training program for final year advanced trainees and Fellows who supervise trainees in RACP-accredited positions.
The Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) and Australian Medical Council (AMC) accreditation standards state that Supervisors are required to be trained. The College Education Committee (CEC) supports the SPDP as the College’s supervisor training program.
To be a RACP Approved Supervisor:
- All Directors of Physician/Paediatrics Education (DPEs), Advanced Training Supervisors (ATS) and Education Supervisors (ES) are required to complete SPDP 3 by end of 2022.
- All DPEs, ATS and ES are required to complete (or be exempt from) SPDP 1 and 2 by end of 2022 or in line with their site accreditation cycle (whichever occurs later).
- Rotational Supervisors (RS) are only required to complete SPDP 3 (non-member RS are encouraged to complete SPDP 3 but there is no requirement).
- After completing one SPDP workshop and prior to achieving Approved status, supervisors will be referred to as Provisionally Approved.
Register now to attend a face-to-face or virtual workshop or the online course.
The RACP invites you to discover our range of educational videos, online courses, and curated collections, designed to support your lifelong learning and professional development. Our educational videos, online courses and curated collections cover a range of clinical and professional topics. Watch this short showreel for a preview of what you'll find on RACP Online Learning.
Developed by experts and RACP Fellows, our resources are adaptable, mobile-friendly, and feature a mix of in-depth content, video scenarios, reflection and discussion activities, and recommended supporting materials. They are also often self-paced and designed to fit around your workload. Plus, you can claim CPD credits for the time you spend on online learning.
This is a friendly reminder that 2021 MyCPD records are due by Thursday, 31 March 2022.
Additionally, CPD records are now open for 2022.
2022 CPD requirements remain the same as 2021, please see the 2022 MyCPD Framework for details. Please note that the Medical Council of New Zealand has additional mandatory requirements for New Zealand practitioners.
Please don’t hesitate to contact the CPD Team for further assistance:
1300 697 227 (option 3 for CPD)
Aotearoa New Zealand
04 460 8122
The RACP welcomes the release of the results of the Medical Board of Australia’s third annual Medical Training Survey (MTS). The survey was run throughout August and September 2021 and was open to all doctors in training in Australia. The survey was completed by 3415 RACP trainees (approximately 43% response rate).
The RACP results are generally consistent with previous years, including favourable results in key areas of medical training. Approximately 80% of RACP respondents reported they would recommend their current training position to other doctors and their current workplace as a place to train. Clinical supervision was rated highly, with 87% of RACP trainees considering it to be of excellent or good quality. These results are on par with the 2020 findings, and the sustained positive results in these areas represent a significant achievement in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected medical training in the states and territories worst hit by the pandemic and had a mixed impact in other regions, with an overall 44% of RACP trainees reporting a negative impact.
Despite substantial disruptions to examinations throughout 2021, we were pleased that survey results improved in most areas related to examinations. Overall, however, there is still room for improvement and we will continue to progress this critical work.
The concerningly high prevalence of bullying, harassment, and discrimination reported in previous years was sustained in 2021, with over 1 in 5 RACP trainees reporting they had experienced it and 1 in 3 reporting they had witnessed it. Doctors continue to be identified as the main perpetrators. In late 2021, the RACP convened the Safe Training Environments Summit, which commenced development of a strategic approach to tackling bullying, harassment, and discrimination in physician training environments.
Over the coming months, the MTS results will be considered by the RACP Board and key committees with a view to developing an action plan based on the findings. We wish to thank our trainees for providing their valuable feedback and encourage trainees’ continually strong participation in this survey.
All MTS results are available online through the data dashboard published on the MedicalTrainingSurvey.gov.au website.
The Medical Board of Australia encourages anyone interested in medical training to access and read the MTS results, create their own tailored report using the interactive data dashboard, and apply the rich MTS dataset to continually improve medical training.
The health and safety of our members and staff are key priorities for the College. We currently require all visitors to be vaccinated (or have a medical exemption) if they wish to attend any of our office locations. This includes all members, staff, and guests.
RACP members are defined as healthcare workers in each local jurisdiction and are required to be fully vaccinated to attend work. We are extending this requirement to RACP events and meetings to ensure the health and safety of all attendees.
If you are attending an RACP office or event, you must follow all guidelines, controls and rules implemented by the College, including signing in via QR code (where provided) and providing proof of vaccination. We also encourage you to wear a face mask where you cannot physically distance, or where required by your jurisdiction.
We will continue to review requirements and will notify you of any changes accordingly.
Have you logged into the RACP Online Community (ROC) yet? If not, now is the perfect time to visit the website and learn how to connect with the AFOEM Online Community. The ROC is a secure online forum of communities exclusively for all RACP Fellows and trainees. Members are automatically entitled to join the ROC, as a part of their College membership. If you haven’t used this type of platform before, think of it as a virtual town hall for the entire College and a series of different online common rooms for different Divisions, Faculties and Chapters.
Watch this short video to find out what members have to say about their experience on the ROC.
To join the ROC, download the app from the App Store or Google Play or login via MyRACP.
Did you know that the ROC has an ‘all member’ online directory that enables you to find your colleagues, send a message, and chat directly with other members? The ROC online directory is intuitive and easy to use, with a search function that allows you to find your colleagues in a few simple steps.
Login to the ROC and connect with your colleagues today.
With only 90 days until RACP Congress session details are being finalised. Join us for a very important session on the Impact of the pandemic on the health of Australians. Make sure you don’t miss the 2022 Ferguson-Glass oration delivered by Professor Karen Walker-Bone.
There are also plenty of engaging shared sessions that should not be missed. Sessions include:
- The wellbeing of doctors
- Policy and Advocacy: Tired of COVID? Aren’t we all. Navigating ethical tensions during a pandemic
- Gender equity in medicine
- Improving workforce and support for rural and remote communities
Explore the full RACP Congress 2022 program
Have you registered for the AFOEM Dinner? Make sure to secure your place when you register.
RACP Congress 2022 shared sessions
Whether you're joining us in person or virtually, RACP Congress 2022 has some particularly pertinent shared sessions. Hear from experts addressing the current situation with COVID-19, as well as leading voices discussing the many other issues impacting the future of healthcare. Join the conversation as we explore ways to create positive systemic change and improvement.
View all of the session topics, including clinical updates and research, on the Congress website. Don’t forget you can claim CPD credits for attendance at RACP Congress - for both in-person and virtual attendance.
As part of the RACP Congress program, the CPC is pleased to announce some special sessions designed specifically for trainees.
Join us, in-person or virtually for topics such as:
- Obstacles to exam preparation: the things we don't talk about
- Trainee burnout and wellness
Check out these and other Congress sessions on the RACP Congress website.
Last chance for Fellows to secure an early bird ticket.
Fellows, time is running out to secure your early bird ticket to RACP Congress. Use code EARLY22 when completing your registration before Monday, 28 February to receive your discount.
You’re invited to the RACP Aotearoa New Zealand Trainees' Day 2022 on Saturday, 2 April 2022. Developed by trainees for trainees, content ranges from big picture issues to professional skill building, honest storytelling and the annual RACP Trainees' Dinner. This event offers the perfect opportunity to connect with the wider trainee community, take time out to think strategically about your career, and hear practical wisdom from experienced professionals.
Register now: Aotearoa New Zealand Trainees' Day 2022
Brave New Normal World: COVID-19 where to from here?
Join us for ‘Brave New Normal World’ – an interactive and informative online event for ALL RACP members nationally - on Saturday, 19 February 2022 10.00am to 12.00pm (AEDT).
Hosted by Dr David Crocker, the session brings together public health and occupational physicians with a focus on healthcare and other workplaces, relevant personnel and the broader community.
What may be expected and required in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022 and beyond will be canvassed and open for discussion.
Our presenters invite your questions at registration and during the interactive panel discussion which will be held during the session.
Brought to you by the AFOEM NSW Regional Committee - it’s online, it's free, and you can earn CPD credits.
To register for the webinar or find out more, visit Brave New Normal World.
With Queensland borders open for business, the ASM Organising Committee and ANZSOM Executive are pleased to confirm that ANZSOM’s face-to-face conference will go ahead as planned on Sunday, 20 March to Wednesday, 23 March 2022.
As professionals in occupational and environmental medicine, there is so much for you to learn at the ANZSOM ASM – especially with AFOEM being an official Scientific Partner! As AFOEM members, you not only receive discounted tickets to the conference but also get the opportunity to network closely with respected industry professionals.
We strongly encourage all AFOEM members to attend, particularly those in QLD. With three days and over thirty speakers, the ASM 2022 technical program is not to be missed!
Some of the highlights include:
- Keynote address from WorkCover QLD CEO, Bruce Watson
- A range of interactive workshops and learning opportunities
- Site visits to local workplaces around Brisbane, as well as a streamed site visit for virtual attendees
- History of Occupational Medicine witness seminar hosted by AFOEM
- Social events including the Welcome Reception and Conference Dinner
There are a number of registration options available including full, day and virtual registrations, with discounts available to all AFOEM members.
Safety is of course our major consideration, and the meeting will be conducted in a way that provides confidence to delegates and speakers, drawing on the advice of health authorities and the expertise within our own ranks.
To register for the event or find out more, visit ANZSOM.
Professor John Wilson is looking forward to hosting the College’s virtual Child Health Summit on Friday, 18 February from 10am to 11.30am AEDT.
During the Summit, the Kids COVID Catch Up Campaign will be launched. The campaign is an advocacy initiative of the Paediatrics & Child Health Division. The campaign aims to elevate the health and wellbeing of children and young people as we recover from the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Summit will feature an expert panel, including:
- Anne Hollonds, National Children's Commissioner
- Dr Elkie Hull, Advanced Trainee in Paediatrics and proud Gamilaraay woman
- Chris O’Connell, 16-year-old Melbourne high-school student and UNICEF Young Ambassador
- Professor Sharon Goldfeld, Director, Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children’s Hospital and Population Health Theme Director at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
- Professor Frank Oberklaid AM, Co-Chair on the National Children’s Mental Health Strategy
- Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service
Register for the Child Health Summit.
Kids' COVID Catch Up Campaign - RACP Member Workshop
On the evening prior to the national Summit, RACP President-elect Dr Jacqueline Small will host a member-only campaign workshop from 6pm to 7pm AEDT on how to get involved in the Kids COVID Catch Up Campaign. Join the workshop to learn more and to share your ideas.
The Practice Analytics research program seeks to understand how hospitals can provide clinical teams and individual clinicians with actionable data that relates to the quality of clinical practice. It explores research and development projects related to the use of electronic health data for reflective practice and enhancing professional practice.
The program is a collaboration between a number of partners across Australia including the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Cabrini Healthcare (VIC), Sydney Adventist Healthcare (NSW), St John of God hospital (WA), Ramsay Hospital Research Foundation and Epworth Healthcare (VIC) and is part of the Digital Health Centre for Cooperative Research.
The program is delivered via a suite of applied research projects including:
• Surgical Learning Loops – aims to understand how data from emerging technologies such as surgical robots can support practice reflection and professional learning.
• Ethical and Legal Considerations of Practice Analytics – aims to understand the ethical and policy implications for organisations and individual clinicians when using electronic health data for reflective practice.
Some clinical partners have already started to explore how data is collected within their organisations and how it can be presented to their clinical workforce.
A scholarship to support two postgraduate research students who undertake the projects is currently available. Applications close 14 February 2022. Find out more or submit an application.
Pomegranate Health podcast: Ep 77 - Deciding with children
This episode is shared from the Essential Ethics podcast produced at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne. It is presented by paediatric respiratory physician, John Massie and clinical ethicist, Lynn Gillam who are respectively the Clinical Lead and Academic Director of the Children's Bioethics Centre.
In a series titled, Deciding with Children they raise the following questions; when can a child be considered to have autonomy to make healthcare decisions for themselves? What intrinsic rights does a young patient have up to this age of so-called Gillick competence? How should responsibility for difficult decisions be shared between the patients, parents and clinicians? And is it possible to minimise the moral injury when the wishes of the patient need to be over-ruled?
- Professor Lynn Gillam (Academic Director, Children’s Bioethics Centre, University of Melbourne)
- Professor John Massie FRACP (Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, University of Melbourne)
- Associate Professor Clare Delany (Children’s Bioethics Centre, University of Melbourne)
- Associate Professor Daryl Efron (Murdoch Children's Research Institute, University of Melbourne)
Access the full series of Essential Ethics podcasts on the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne website.
Do you want to be among the first to find out about more Pomegranate Health podcasts? Subscribe to email alerts or search for ‘Pomegranate Health’ in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, or any podcasting app. RACP Fellows can claim CPD credits for listening and learning via MyCPD. For a transcript and further references please visit our webpage.
Reinstatement of telephone MBS items for specialist telehealth retained
The RACP welcomes the reinstatement of telephone MBS items for specialist telehealth for the next six months, especially under the surging pandemic conditions. The RACP has strongly advocated for the retainment of MBS items for phone consultations. Patients will now be able to safely communicate with their specialists without being exposed to potential infection or forgoing specialist care altogether.
Telephone items are the key to ensuring access to specialist care for many Australians during and beyond the pandemic. The College has consistently argued that phone consultations are preferred by many patients or necessitated by patient-specific circumstances such as old age, fragility, intellectual disabilities, deficit in technology skills, low bandwidth, geographical barriers, and inability to access in-person care.
We are especially pleased that telephone items will be available for initial, as well as complex consultations, and that telehealth rebates are now available for inpatients who wish to receive a consultation with their specialist. Complex consultations via telephone are vital for specialist physicians who often see patients when they have multiple conditions that require more complex care.
We will continue to advocate for the retainment of these items beyond mid-2022 in the interest of our patients and members.
For more information regarding the changes, visit Temporary items to 30 June 2022
Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2022–2023
The Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) published the Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2022–23 (the Framework) and the accompanying Consultation Report. These documents are available on the IHPA website.
The RACP submission to the consultation process on the Framework addressed the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of hospital services future funding models, which reflect the IHPA’s shift from paying for volume of services to paying for value and patient outcomes. It also addressed avoidable and preventable hospitalisations and adjustments to the national efficient price.
IHPA has now responded to our submission acknowledging key points of feedback and committing to work with the College and other stakeholders on progressing these areas of reform. We encourage you to read the response to the submission.
Pre-Budget Submission 2022-2023 to the Australian Government Treasury
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to highlight and exacerbate key deficiencies in the Australian health system and persistent socioeconomic issues which influence both the system and the health and wellbeing of Australians.
The Federal Budget 2022-2023 is an opportunity to reset; to focus on addressing the underlying causes of poor health and put in place the foundations for long term better and more equitable health and wellbeing outcomes.
The College’s Pre-Budget Submission 2022-2023 titled ‘Delivering a Future-Focused Health System for Equitable Care and Healthier Communities’ offers a constructive, practical set of recommendations based on the expertise and experience of our members working across primary, community and hospital settings in the public and private sector. The recommendations to the Federal Government are focused on seven priority areas:
- Boosting the COVID-19 response, recovery, and pandemic preparedness for future communicable diseases
- Delivering integrated and innovative healthcare to improve access and quality of care
- Building an appropriately funded and safe medical specialist workforce
- Closing the gap on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
- Prioritising the health and wellbeing of children and young people and their recovery from the setbacks of COVID-19
- Enabling Australians to live longer and healthier lives by strengthening support for preventive health
- Fund evidence-based ‘best buy’ preventive health measures
- Improve access to services for alcohol and other drug treatment and prevention
- Maintain a strong NDIS
- Enhance consumer and carer health literacy
7. Making our health system low-carbon and climate resilient.
As the College continues to advocate for the recommendations included in the submission, we will be asking members to support this important work through a forthcoming campaign.
The College continues to advocate for appropriately designed and funded permanent telehealth specialist MBS items on behalf its members and patients. Our advocacy work focuses on securing equitable access for priority populations and those in regional and remote areas.
While the RACP welcomed the introduction of the permanent items in late 2021, we have been raising member concerns in relation to some aspects of the arrangements in our submissions to and meetings with the Department of Health and our December 2021 media release. The main concerns included the removal of specialist telehealth phone items and imposing the 30-20 auditing rule.
Our strong advocacy has recently resulted in two wins:
- the Government has reinstated 33 initial and complex specialist telephone consultation items and 40 specialist inpatient telehealth items until 30 June 2022. A RACP media release welcomed this decision.
- the introduction of the 30-20 auditing rule is being delayed and reviewed for impact on access to specialist care. A RACP media release reiterated our advocacy against this threshold.
As part of our continued advocacy on telehealth, we are planning a campaign to highlight the implications of removing specialist telehealth phone items post-June 2022. Central to this campaign will be case studies to demonstrate the unintended negative consequences associated with such removals, especially for underserviced and priority populations and those in regional and remote areas. We are looking for such case studies from members.
We would like to hear from you if you have a compelling case study that needs to be shared. Please submit your details by Monday, 14 February 2022 to RACPConsult@racp.edu.au.
The Department also prepared guidance material for practitioners, billing agents and other parties involved in Medicare billing to understand when hospital treatment - 75 per cent, 85 per cent and 100 per cent - benefits apply to services claimed under MBS.
Reporting adverse events post-COVID vaccination through to the TGA
In early January 2022, the first cases of myocarditis as an adverse event related to COVID-19 booster vaccines were reported by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The TGA has been intensively monitoring suspected vaccine-related side effects throughout the COVID-19 immunisation roll-out period, to identify trends or spikes that might indicate vaccine safety issues.
Plans are now being finalised to guarantee that adverse events, such as myocarditis, continue to be monitored in the medium term, mirroring the approach of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Consumers and health professionals are encouraged to report any suspected side effects post-immunisation, even if there’s only a small chance a vaccine was the cause, to allow ongoing analysis and monitoring of any potential safety issues.
The TGA has provided a guide for consumers and health professionals to report suspected side effects (adverse events) associated with a COVID-19 vaccine.
Reports can also be made to health professionals, state or territory health departments and the NPS MedicineWise Adverse Medicine Events Line on 1300 134 237.
All reports of suspected side effects will continue to be included in the TGA’s follow-up research to maintain and improve vaccine safety.
Check the Expressions of Interest page at any time, to find out if there are any opportunities that are of benefit to you.
Lead Fellow, Education Learning and Assessment, RACP, Sydney CBD
Applications close on Friday, 11 March 2022.
For career opportunities, view all positions vacant on the RACP website.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians publishes notices of events and courses as a service to members. Such publication does not constitute endorsement or mandating of any such events or courses.
Go to the events list at any time to see what events are coming up.
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