The President's Message - 6 November 2015

I want to recognise fellow Physicians and Paediatricians who succeeded in mobilising over a thousand of their colleagues across Australia last week.

Fellows, trainees and health care workers in Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin, Brisbane and Newcastle last week took the initiative to protest against the continued incarceration of asylum seekers, particularly children, in detention under Australian Immigration Policy.

In some cases, their action was little more than assembling outside a hospital for a photo together to demonstrate their solidarity – but the images were powerful and the message clear.

In taking this action, they spoke with the passion, authority and dignity that medical professionals can.
Their action across the country received widespread publicity on television, radio, in print and online.

Paediatrician Josh Francis featured prominently on the ABC’s 24 hour TV news channel, making the call that children and their families desperately need to be out of immigration detention.

In an interview with The Guardian Paediatrician Karen Zwi made the point that the approximately 200 children detained had on average now been held for well over a year - 417 days. 

It is a shocking fact which should reinvigorate our efforts to end this inhumane policy.

Our College continues to participate at the highest levels of national conversation in efforts to influence policy on behalf of our patients and the community.

This week an eminent Fellow well-known here in Australia, Fiona Stanley AC, has added her voice to calls for Australia’s Health Minister to attend the COP21 Climate Change talks in Paris.

Professor Stanley is calling for a national strategic plan to combat the health effects of Climate Change.

You can read her call to action and see an infographic on how climate change affects health outcomes by clicking here.

As medical professionals we should not underestimate the scientific, evidenced-based weight that we can bring to bear on these public discussions and the policy agenda.

Laureate Professor Nicholas Talley
RACP President

College represented at Senate hearing on vaccination 

This week Fellows of the College representing the Paediatric and Child Health Division and the Faculty of Public Health Medicine appeared before the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee hearing on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (No Jab, No Pay) Bill 2015. 

This Bill proposes to make the child care benefit, child care rebate and Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement conditional on the child meeting immunisation requirements.

The College strongly supports vaccination programs and initiatives to increase vaccination uptake. We are however concerned that punitive measures such as withdrawal of social benefits are an ineffective mechanism to encourage immunisation amongst vaccine refusers.

Such policies adversely impact marginalised families who might struggle to access health care services including immunisation. The College is in favour of evidence-based strategies to improve immunisation rates, such as education and outreach programs targeting vulnerable families.

National Alcohol Strategy

The Federal Government is keen to hear from individuals on the new National Alcohol Strategy 2016-2021, via an online survey just released. The deadline for feedback is Friday, 20 November 2015.

I would urge all of you, especially if you have an interest in and knowledge of alcohol policy, addiction medicine or public health in general, to express your views to the government on the direction and focus for this new strategy. Please also consider circulating the survey to your own networks.

Alcohol-related harms impact significantly on individuals, communities, health professionals and the health system as a whole. The College has been actively advocating for a national approach to addressing this issue and strongly believe more needs to be done. This is an opportunity for our voices to be heard.

The College will also be producing a formal response to the National Alcohol Strategy Development Discussion Paper which underpins this survey.

Sydney December open meeting

To provide further opportunity for the membership to engage with the Board, an open meeting is taking place in Sydney, on Wednesday, 2 December 2015. 

We invite you to attend, and participate in discussion on all issues and subjects that you may wish to address, from all the diverse areas of our vibrant organisation.

Venue: RACP Education Centre, Level 8, 52 Phillip St, Sydney
Date: Wednesday, 2 December 
Time: 5pm to 6.30pm

Light refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP to events@racp.edu.au.
 

Consultation – draft Health in All Policies (HiAP) Position Statement 

The Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Policy and Advocacy Committee (AFPHM-PAC) is seeking comments on the draft Health in All Policies (HiAP) Position Statement. 

The position statement aims to raise RACP Fellows and trainees’ awareness of the social determinants of health and to provide an introduction to policy development approaches that consider health implications.

Comments are sought from Fellows and trainees across the College who have an interest or expertise in relevant areas. 

Please contact Angela Hua via racpconsult@racp.edu.au to request a copy of the draft position statement and submit any comments. Consultation closes on Tuesday, 17 November 2015.

Climate Change Campaign

As part of our www.doctorsforclimateaction.org campaign, Fellows of the College will be organising local groups to participate in the People’s Climate March across Australia and New Zealand

Events will take place in major cities on the weekend of 27-29 November, on the eve of the United Nations climate summit in Paris. If you would like to join with local College members to draw attention to the health impacts of climate change, please register your interest via policy@racp.edu.au to be connected with lead Fellows for your capital city. 

Department of Human Services Health Professional Guidelines- substantiating services provided under rights of private practice at public hospital outpatient departments

The Department of Human Services is seeking feedback from Fellows of the College on the newly developed Health Professional Guidelines (HPG) for ‘substantiating services provided under rights of private practice at public hospital outpatient departments’.  

The HPG has been developed to provide guidance to practitioners on the documentation that may be used for substantiating that services provided under rights of private practice at public hospital outpatient departments were consistent with the MBS item requirements and have been billed correctly.

The guideline is not intended to be an exhaustive list of suggestions or solutions, but simply a guide as to what may help if a health professional is required to participate in a Medicare compliance audit. 

If you wish to provide comments, please send your response to COMPLIANCE.STAKEHOLDER@humanservices.gov.au  by COB Friday, 13 November 2015.

If you require further information about compliance for health professionals, Medicare compliance audits and reviews or Health Professional Guidelines, please follow the links provided below: 

College Office Closures

Please note that the College Offices in Australia will be closed for the Christmas period from Friday, 25 December 2015, reopening Monday, 4 January 2016.

The New Zealand Office will be closed from Friday, 25 December 2015, reopening Tuesday, 5 January 2016.
 

Expressions of interest 

EOI: Censor, College Assessment Committee, closes 9 November 2015

College Fellows are invited to apply for the role of College Censor. The College Censor will Chair the College Assessment Committee which has the responsibility for ensuring standards for assessment are maintained across the College’s training programs. The College Assessment Committee is comprised of College members experienced in assessment and relevant non-members with specific technical skills.  

The College Censor will report to the Chair of the College Education Committee and will be appointed for an initial term of two years, with opportunity for renewal.  

The Censor will be required to Chair all meetings of the College Assessment Committee, held in Sydney twice a year, and up to four teleconference meetings each year, if required. The College Censor will also be a member of the College Education Committee.  

For more information, or to request a copy of the position description and draft Terms of Reference for the College Assessment Committee, please email clare.leroy@racp.edu.au.

Interested Fellows should submit an application with their CV to Dr Jonathan Christiansen, Chair, College Education Committee via email: cec@racp.edu.au.

Applications are due by COB Monday 9 November 2015.

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