The President's Message - 18 December 2015

Australasian Faculty of Public Health President-Elect Professor Lynne Madden has presented our Global Consensus Statement on Climate Action to UN representatives at the 2015 Climate and Health Summit.

For those of you who may not have been closely following progress, our statement has now been endorsed by 68 international health and medical bodies and more than 1500 individual signatories from 50 countries.

It is an impressive example of the collective advocacy we can mobilise on an issue. Those signatories include the Hong Kong College of Physicians, American Medical Association, Indian Academy of Paediatrics, West African College of Physicians and the British Medical Association.

I wish to congratulate everyone involved in the organisation and execution of this campaign and ask you all to continue to advocate on behalf of those patients who will be affected by the health impacts of unchecked climate change.

Separately, I was delighted to address a full audience made up of many of our leading Fellows for the recent visit to the College of Obamacare architect and US Presidential Health Advisor Dr Ezekiel Emanuel.

In an enlightening discussion Dr Emanuel predicted the expansion of digital medicine, the end of healthcare inflation and dramatic changes to medical education. It was fascinating to discuss the relevance of these trends to Australia and in particular the work of the College. 

Dr Emanuel also discussed his role in the introduction of Obamacare sharing his side of the story, including the highs and lows of the reform, and confided that the Affordable Care Act had been more successful than many had expected – leading to a big drop in the number of people uninsured in America and the number of readmissions.

Video footage of the event, ‘Megatrends in health and medical education’ is available on the College’s YouTube channel. My thanks to those members who took time out from their busy schedules to attend this event.

Finally I would like to update you regarding the College’s progress on addressing the issue of bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment in the medical profession.

As we committed to you, the Board working party convened on this issue has completed its report, and reported to the December Board meeting. 

The report found the College has sound mechanisms in place, particularly in its setting of standards of professional and lawful conduct and behaviour. We also have a range of high quality training modules that address this issue.

But we can also improve in taking a cross College approach to bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment from trainee entry, across all our physician training pathways. We are now developing a project plan to do so.

Regardless, our position on bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment is clear – we have zero tolerance for this type of behaviour. 

In closing, this is my final message for the year, and the College eBulletins will recommence on 29 January 2016. 

Thank you to you all for your work and your commitment to our College during 2015; a year of extraordinary accomplishment.

Laureate Professor Nicholas Talley
RACP President

College Election

A number of terms of office for College positions are coming to an end in May 2016. As these dedicated College Fellows move on from their time in service, we are looking for nominations for Fellows interested in taking on these positions. 

Eligible College Members are encouraged to nominate for the following positions:

  • RACP President-Elect
  • New Zealand President-Elect
  • President-Elect of the Adult Medicine Division
  • Members of the Adult Medicine Division Council
  • President-Elect of the Paediatrics and Child Health Division
  • Members of the Paediatrics and Child Health Division Council
  • President-Elect of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine
  • Members of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine Council
  • President-Elect of the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • President-Elect of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
  • Members of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Council
  • President-Elect of the Australasian Chapter of Addiction Medicine
  • Member of the Australasian Chapter of Addiction Medicine Committee
  • President-Elect of the Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine
  • Members of the Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine Committee
  • President-Elect of the Australasian Chapter of Palliative Medicine
  • Members of the Australasian Chapter of Palliative Medicine Committee. 

Nominations remain open until Monday, 1 February 2016. Successful nominees will be appointed for a two year term, starting Monday, 16 May 2016 (at the close of the 2016 Annual General Meeting).

 Further details can be found on the College website.

If you have any questions, please contact Brendan Tobin on +61 2 9256 9676 or by email to

Regional convocation welcomes new Fellows

116 new Fellows attended the regional convocation in Sydney on Friday, 4 December. This was the second regional convocation held, following a ceremony in Melbourne in September.

Paediatrician Dr Christine Jeffries-Stokes delivered the oration titled ‘Pulkurlkpa – Joy and Medicine’. Dr Jeffries-Stokes spoke about her 20 years of experience working in clinical practice and research in the goldfields of Western Australia, highlighting the continued challenges our Indigenous communities face in healthcare access. She encouraged all new Fellows to find the joy in medicine and encouraged all present to remember the opportunities and rewards that working in rural communities brings to physicians and paediatricians. 

The introduction of regional convocation, in addition to Congress convocation, has been positively received by our recently admitted Fellows. The regional events provide more members with the opportunity to celebrate their admission to Fellowship and create local opportunities for networking and collegiality. This opportunity will be extended to Auckland in 2016.

College Censor Appointed

After a recent Expression of Interest process it is my great pleasure to announce the appointment of Professor Tim Wilkinson as College Censor. Tim, a geriatrician from New Zealand, is Professor in Medicine and Associate Dean (Medical Education) at the University of Otago’s Christchurch campus. He is a well-known figure in medical education, particularly in relation to his expertise in assessment and has a PhD on the impact of standards based assessment. He has published prolifically in the area of assessment and medical education and has a particular academic interest in the assessment of competence and workplace learning. Tim has had a long involvement in the College and has most recently been a member of the Joint Divisional Assessment Subcommittee.  

The Censor holds an important new role in the College as lead Fellow in relation to assessment standards across all RACP training programs. The College Censor will Chair, and be supported by, the College Assessment Committee (CAC), which is a new committee established to have oversight of standards and policies on assessment. The CAC will have responsibility for reviewing assessments (both formative and summative) across all College training programs and all policies and operational guidelines within the College in relation to examinations and assessments and providing recommendations, where necessary. The CAC reports to the College Education Committee. 

Training Support Pathway

If you are a trainee who is having difficulties meeting and completing your training requirements, the College has a support pathway to assist you. The pathway, and its supporting resources, aims to help you and your supervisors to navigate and address your difficulties at an early stage, and get you back on track.

For more information, the Training Support pages on the College’s website offer an explanation of the pathway, links to supporting resources, the full College Trainees in Difficulty Policy and process, as well as frequently asked questions. 

Alternatively, the College’s Training Support Unit is available to help both trainees and supervisors.

Email: (AUS)      
Phone: +61 2 9256 5457

International Medical Symposium

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) in association with the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and the Australian & New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) are pleased to host the 2016 International Medical Symposium: Future Challenges for the Medical Profession.

Now in its fifth year, IMS 2016 will focus on the future of the profession specifically in the areas of:

  • future roles and responsibilities for doctors: who is the doctor of the future?
  • doctors and performance at work
  • diversity in the profession and medical practice
  • how ageing affects physicians and their patients.

IMS 2016 will again bring together representatives of international and local specialist medical colleges, medical schools, health services and regulators for an inspiring day where challenges can be discussed and new ideas explored.

Keynote speakers at IMS 2016 include:

  • Professor Olle ten Cate
  • Professor David Sinclair
  • Dr Julian Archer
  • Dr Susan O’Dwyer
  • Dr Victoria Brazil
  • Dr Papaarangi Reid.

To register visit the website.

Important information

For information: preventing and managing problems with opioid prescribing for chronic non-cancer pain

Every specialist sees patients with pain and it is important they are managed in the best possible way to avoid potential complications arising from misuse of therapeutics. 

The RACP has recently endorsed Preventing and managing problems with opioid prescribing for chronic non-cancer pain, a practical guide published by the NSW Therapeutic Advisory Group. It assists clinicians to manage the complex medical, ethical and regulatory issues that arise when using opioids for chronic pain in adults in primary care, and is based on the best available evidence or expert consensus where research evidence is lacking. 

Consultation: the role of paediatricians in the mental health care of children and young people

The Paediatric Policy & Advocacy Committee has convened a working group to develop a discussion paper looking at paediatricians’ role in mental health care for children and young people. The working group is now seeking feedback from RACP members on its latest draft.

A copy of the discussion paper can be obtained by emailing Feedback is due by Friday, 22 January 2016.

Information regarding the PBS listing of biosimilar infliximab

The first infliximab biosimilar (Inflectra) has been listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 December. The Department of Health has released a fact sheet providing information on the product and its listing, including the fact that it will be substitutable by pharmacists (‘a-flagged’). There is also a letter to prescribers available, with further information available on the PBS website.

Note from the Tasmanian Coroner for dissemination to Tasmanian cardiologists

Tasmanian Coroner Simon Cooper has asked the College to advise members in Tasmania of an important matter regarding the natural death of a person from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Physicians and Paediatricians Practising in Isolation in New Zealand Discussion Document 

A discussion document has been released following concerns raised by the New Zealand Adult Medicine Division Committee, on issues arising from experiences of Fellows working in the regions and rural areas of New Zealand.

The Physicians and Paediatricians in Isolation in New Zealand Discussion Document outlines issues including the responsibility of employers, an interest in establishing regional networks to improve connections for doctors working in isolated areas, and the role of District Health Boards in supporting doctors in isolation. 

Feedback from members is encouraged. If you are interested in becoming involved in the College’s policy and advocacy work in New Zealand, please email



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