The President's Message - 11 September 2015

RACS Statement on Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment

This week many of us will have seen the statement made by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) regarding the unacceptability of discrimination, bullying and harassment in the surgical profession.

We commend the strong stand RACS has taken on these issues.

Although the RACP has clear guidelines designed to effectively promote and shape a positive and supportive behavioural culture for everyone in our College community, we also recognise that there is a problem with discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in some parts of the health sector.

In response,  the College Board has recently established a Working Party to conduct an investigation into the effectiveness of the College’s processes to respond to any allegations of bullying or harassment that occurs in the education relationship in the workplace environment involving members of the College. The Working Party will also recommend ways the College can strengthen support for our members in these situations going forward.


Over the last fortnight our College has taken a strong public advocacy position on three prominent health issues.

Opioids are now one of the most over-prescribed pain medications in Australia. New evidence suggests their effectiveness in the treatment of long-term pain is limited. In a widely-reported media release we have called for caution in their prescription.

We have also welcomed legislation in NSW that makes it an offence for any retailer to sell  e-cigarettes to minors or to purchase e-cigarettes on behalf of minors.

These products mimic and glamourise smoking behaviour. Many are marketed using strategies to target young people, such as fruit, candy and alcohol flavourings and utilise seductive advertising and campaigns including celebrity ambassadors.

The new legislation will go some way in protecting a generation who have never previously been exposed to the manipulative tactics used by tobacco companies in the past.

We have also repeated our call for the immediate removal of the children of asylum seekers from immigration detention.

This follows the release of the Australian Senate report on abuse allegations at the Nauru detention centre – which confirms our position that these facilities are no place for the young and vulnerable.

UK College Visits

I recently met with the Presidents and Vice Presidents of our peer Colleges in Ireland, Scotland and England as well as the National Director of the NHS and Chair of the General Medical Council.

Among the matters we discussed were progress on the UK’s medical revalidation scheme, and the ongoing internationalisation of medicine and medical education.

The RACP CEO and I also hosted an event for UK-based alumni. The opportunity to attend this event was well-received by RACP members with 49 accepting the invitation to meet with their RACP colleagues and helped to advance a range of discussions on the future role of the College. See the feature story below for more information.

Laureate Professor Nicholas Talley
RACP President

UK Alumni Event

More than 40 UK-based alumni accepted the invitation to attend a reception at the Royal College of Physicians London hosted by RACP President and CEO.

The event for Fellows and trainees now based permanently in Britain, or who have taken short term roles, provided the opportunity to connect with an important cohort of overseas based members and discuss the changing role of physicians and paediatricians.   

For me it was a powerful reminder of the great diversity, reach and depth of the medical expertise of the professionals who collectively embody the RACP and a welcome opportunity to discuss the role of our College. 

MBS Review Taskforce calls for College nominations to 28 Clinical Committees

The College has been requested by the MBS Review Taskforce to submit nominations for 28 Clinical Committees by 30 September 2015.  For further information please visit the Taskforce website.

The 28 Clinical Committees being established are:

  1. Allergy and Immunology
  2. Allied health (includes currently funded chronic disease management services)
  3. Anaesthesia
  4. Cardiology (includes cardiothoracic surgery)
  5. Consultation services (includes specialist and consultant physicians)
  6. Dermatology
  7. Endocrinology (includes endocrine surgery)
  8. General Practice (includes health assessments and acupuncture)
  9. General Surgery (includes abdominal, upper gastrointestinal and colorectal surgery)
  10. Gynaecology
  11. Hand surgery
  12. Indigenous Health
  13. Intensive care (includes neonatology and emergency medicine)
  14. Mental health services (includes psychiatry and GP mental health items)
  15. Neurology (includes neurosurgery and interventional neuro-radiology)
  16. Oncology (includes medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, and cancer specific imaging)
  17. Ophthalmology
  18. Optometry
  19. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (includes the Cleft lip and Palate Scheme)
  20. Orthopaedics
  21. Paediatric surgery
  22. Pain management
  23. Pathology
  24. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  25. Renal medicine
  26. Spinal surgery
  27. Urology
  28. Vascular surgery and interventional radiology

The intention is for these Clinical Committees to be chaired by an expert from the particular discipline, and comprise specialist experts in the discipline as well as clinicians with expertise relevant to or associated with the committees’ focus.

The Clinical Committees are not age-specific. It is therefore important that the paediatric perspective is represented on each of the Committees that will have relevance to children.

The very tight timeframes involved, and the nature of the Taskforce’s approach to establishing these committees, rules out a College EOI process for these nominations.

If you would like to be nominated to one of the Committees please email by COB Monday, 28 September.

Please include the following details in your email: name, position/title, organisation, e-mail contact, and clinical interest/expertise.

The College will provide the list of interested Fellows to the Taskforce, who will then undertake their own selection procedure to determine the successful nominees.

Please note that the nominees will not be representing the College or their specialty. It should also be noted that the College’s MBS Review Working Party will not be engaging directly with issues of remuneration.

Please contact if you would like further information.

Pomegranate Podcasts

Pomegranate, the RACP’s CPD podcast, has released the final instalment of its end-of-life series. The episode, titled ‘Law at End-of-Life’, integrates perspectives from Professor Ben White, who directs the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at QUT, and A/Prof Colin Gavaghan, who heads the Centre for Law and Emerging Technologies at the University of Otago.

In the episode, they review the legal frameworks for end-of-life care in Australia and New Zealand, and how they differ when a patient lacks capacity.

A peer-reviewed podcast, ‘by physicians, for physicians’, Pomegranate debuted on the new RACP website at the end of June, and has already been featured as a ‘New and Noteworthy’ program in the iTunes’ Medicine category. Members can subscribe to Pomegranate in iTunes to have new episodes automatically downloaded to their listening devices. Members using other podcast apps can simply search for Pomegranate in their app of choice.

The Pomegranate team welcomes comments on past shows, suggestions for topics, or recommendations for subject matter experts. Please contact

The next episode, due out 29 September, will provide an update in stem cell research and stem cell therapies from Professor John Rasko of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Consumer engagement survey now live

With a view to developing a College-wide strategy for consumer engagement and patient-centred care, an online survey is now open to encourage members to share their views on how to strengthen relationships with patients, their families and the community to provide better health outcomes.

All physicians, clinical and non-clinical are invited to participate. The survey is designed to allow physicians to only answer questions about their organisation and the College that are relevant to their role. There are also free text boxes at the end of the survey to allow you to contribute further responses.

The survey takes 5-7 minutes to complete. Health Issues Centre will analyse the survey results and clean the data to ensure responses are provided anonymously.

The survey closes Sunday, 18 October 2015. Results will be available on the College website in early 2016 and a summary will be presented in RACP News.

If you are interested in receiving further information about the consumer engagement project, please contact

The survey can be accessed here.

Expressions of Interest

Consultation on 'Good End-of-Life Care', closes 23 September 2015

The College’s End of Life Working Party is seeking feedback on the position statement: ‘Good End-of-Life Care’.

The position statement articulates the five key elements of identification and care of patients who are nearing the end of their lives. This document will guide the College’s advocacy work in this area as well as education and training and curricula review. 

If you would like to contribute your views on the position statement, please email to receive a copy of the draft document.

Please note comments close on COB Wednesday, 23 September 2015.

EOI: Library & Heritage Committee, closes 28 September 2015

Applications are invited from Fellows and trainees who are interested in joining the College’s Library & Heritage Committee.

The Library & Heritage Committee has been established to review and provide direction on the ongoing management and maintenance of all College owned heritage and assets, including an annual review of strategy, policy and guidelines, quality assurance of asset management undertaken by the College and guidance as to retention or removal of assets. Please see the Terms of Reference for further information.

For further information, or if you are interested in joining, please send a completed EOI Form and CV by 5pm, Monday 28 September 2015, to

Conferences and Events

NSW Basic Trainee Forum
16 September 2015, Sydney

This annual NSW Basic Trainee Forum is held by the NSW Trainee Committee and NSW State Office, for all trainees seeking further information on admission to Basic Training and job opportunities.

The forum offers presentations from College Fellows on matters such as work/life balance, CV and job applications, and preparing for the exam. The evening will conclude with a panel discussion and Q and A session.

Venue: Lorimer Dods Lecture Theatre, Children’s Hospital at Westmead
Date: Wednesday, 16 September 2015
Registration: Email the NSW State Office at

NSW Advanced Trainee Forum – Adult Medicine
7 October 2015, Sydney

The theme of this evening will be ‘Transitioning from Trainee to Consultant Physician/Paediatrician’.  The program includes presentations from recently-admitted Fellows, a panel discussion and Q and A session on admission to Fellowship and job opportunities.

This is an opportunity to source information, expand your contacts and network with other Advanced Trainees, College staff and Fellows.

Venue: Scot Skirving Lecture Theatre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Date: Wednesday, 7 October 2015
Registration: Email the NSW State Office at, by Thursday, 17 September 2015.

Australian Clinical Trials Alliance Symposium Meeting
7 to 10 October 2015, Sydney

The Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA) Clinical Trial Symposium meeting, with the theme of ‘Better Evidence, Better Health’, aims to bring together a broad range of local and international experts in the design and conduct of clinical trials, clinical data and registry custodianship, healthcare funding, policy and regulation, healthcare service delivery, health information technology and patient advocacy.

Venue: Hilton Hotel, Sydney
Date: Wednesday, 7 to Saturday, 10 October 2015
Registration: Visit the conference website

Awards and Grants

Nominations for the following awards will be closing soon:

The Eric Susman Prize

Howard Williams Medal

Please visit the RACP Foundation website for further details about each award and to download nomination forms.


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