The President's Message – 5 November 2018

I am pleased to advise our Board has approved the RACP’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Statement, providing a valuable resource to inform thinking on this important issue.

This concludes 18 months of work and broad consultation by the RACP’s Working Party.

I would like to thank the members of the Working Party for the time, effort, and intellectual and emotional energy that they have invested in this challenging subject area.

Our thanks also to the many RACP members who contributed their views, whether by attending one of our forums, making a submission, participating in our online forum, attending one of our sessions at Congress, or simply emailing me your thoughts.

You can now read our full statement and the consultation report accompanying the statement.

In short – we respect and support all members and don’t believe it is appropriate or possible to enforce a single view on a matter where individual conscience is important.

Legalisation of voluntary assisted dying is for governments to decide, considering the will of the community, research, and the views of medical and health practitioners. However, our statement should not be taken as support for legislative change.

Legislative change related to voluntary assisted dying will affect individual members in different ways. 

Different clinical settings require ethical and clinical considerations to be made carefully, deliberately and systematically. Our members are not unanimous in their support of or opposition to legislative change. 

The RACP takes the following unified positions if and where voluntary assisted dying is legalised:

  • Every patient should have access to timely, equitable, good quality end-of-life care, with access to specialist palliative care where appropriate. These services must not be devalued.
  • On the specific issue of a competent adult in the last stages of incurable illness requesting voluntary assistance to die, the RACP supports a clinical approach of critical neutrality to encourage reflective dialogue. 
  • Although physicians should not be forced to act outside their values and beliefs, they also should not disengage from patients holding different values and beliefs, without ensuring that arrangements for ongoing care are in place.
  • Patients seeking voluntary assisted dying should be made aware of the benefits of palliative care. Referral to specialist palliative care should be strongly recommended but cannot be made mandatory.  Voluntary assisted dying must not be seen as part of palliative care.

We will continue to highlight concerns about legislative proposals, drawing on both clinical experience and the ethical perspectives of our members. 

The RACP will continue to advocate for patient and physician wellbeing, in order to support our members and contribute our expertise as medical specialists who care for dying patients.

Our College has also been very active in other areas of advocating through the media since I last wrote to you.

Senior paediatricians have featured on national television and radio across Australia insisting that all remaining children and their families be removed from immigration detention on Nauru. Our New Zealand colleagues and their Specialty Society endorsed that call.

We also highlighted a significant public health emergency and forced action at the most senior levels of Australian Federal Government.

For the benefit of New Zealand members who may not have seen the coverage of this issue recently, an alarmingly large cluster of stone-masons who were cutting stone benchtops to size in Queensland were identified as suffering from accelerated silicosis.

Inhalation of crystalline silica dust has left them with crippling scarring and inflammation of the lungs in as little as three years.

Our AFOEM and Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand colleagues worked with the ABC to air a hard-hitting story which led 7:30 – Australia’s leading nightly current affairs TV program.

The response was immediate – the issue was elevated to the Council of Australian Government Health Ministers meeting two days later – a very rare occurrence.

Following that meeting Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced  work would commence on the creation of a national dust disease register and Safework Australia would be asked to review silica dust exposure standards.

These announcements followed behind the scenes briefings with regulators and policy makers at both Commonwealth and State levels over the preceding two weeks.

On the RACP website, you can view our media releases and the policy requests we are making.

I am also pleased to announce we’ve strengthened one of our most important international partnerships – the Tri-Nations Alliance.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia we signed a new Memorandum of Understanding, boosting the long-standing and important co-operation between the RACP, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC).

Together we’ve committed to furthering medical education research as well as exploring topics such as indigenous health and artificial intelligence: medical education and patient-centred care in the age of technology.

These partnerships offer tremendous benefits and insights as we train the physicians of tomorrow.

Finally, if you are a DPE, Supervisor or trainee, beginning next week you can have your say on the quality of our training settings.

You’ll be sent a link to our annual Physician Training Survey – please take the time to fill it out.

Your feedback ensures we maintain physician education at world class levels.

Kind Regards,

Associate Professor Mark Lane
RACP President

Your Board responds to your feedback

Thank you to all the members who took time out to join our Board for a Conversation with the Board event in Melbourne on Thursday, 4 October.

Members raised a range of issues including education and training, workplace issues and College culture.

A summary of the discussion that took place and the Board's response can be accessed on the RACP website.

Read now

Rewarding Congress role on offer

Fellows are invited to express an interest in becoming RACP Congress 2020 and 2021 Lead Fellow.
Doctor David Beaumont is the current Lead Fellow and he says anyone interested in applying for the role should not hesitate to do so.

Read his story

Help shape RACP Congress 2020

Expressions of interest are sought from interested Fellows to nominate for the RACP Congress Lead Fellow role for 2020 with the possibility of extending to 2021.

The Congress Lead Fellow is mandated to work with the Fellowship Committee and College staff to implement agreed Congress themes, a ‘Shared Interests’ focus and multi-delivery format.

Find out more

Past President honoured

Congratulations to former RACP President, Laureate Professor Nicholas Talley AC MD PhD, recipient of the prestigious NSW Premier's Prize for Scientist of the Year.

Professor Talley received the honour because of his significant contribution to the advancement of science, which has benefited and has the potential to benefit the people of NSW. 

The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian presented Professor Talley with his award at a ceremony in Sydney on Tuesday, 30 October.

Learn more

Scholarships making a difference

Inaugural RACP Indigenous Health Scholarship recipient Dr John Wood is encouraging eligible trainees and medical graduates to apply for one of eight scholarships currently on offer.

“I felt it would be a good opportunity to promote Indigenous health,” he says. “At the time [when the scholarship was awarded], I was working on a case series of statin myositis in Indigenous Australians and had encountered various barriers to doing research in the field.”

Read more

Indigenous Congress Prize on offer

Medical students, junior medical officers or physician trainees who identify as being of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Māori or Pacific Islander heritage can now apply for the RACP President's Indigenous Congress Prize.

This is an important initiative designed to provide educational and networking opportunities by supporting the recipient to attend RACP Congress 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Applications close on Friday, 30 November and we urge you to encourage eligible colleagues to apply.

Find out more

CPD grant applications open soon

Fellows living and working in rural and remote Australia can soon apply for another round of continuing professional development funding, as part of the Support for Rural Specialists in Australia (SRSA) program.
Read more

Sign the statement

The Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) is urging health organisations and health professionals to call on Australian Government to sign the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

In 2017, Australian health care professionals played a pivotal role in getting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted by the United Nations. This treaty includes a comprehensive set of prohibitions on countries participating in any nuclear weapon activities. 

Health professionals can show support for the campaign by signing the online statement.

Evolve updates

As part of World Antibiotic Awareness Week (12-18 November 2018), RACP Evolve is inviting trainees and Fellows to become Evolve Clinical Champions by pledging their support to reduce unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics. Find out how you can pledge your support by contacting RACP Evolve. You can also visit the Evolve website for more information

Managing Gastro-oesophagal reflux disease (GORD)

RACP Evolve supports the NPS MedicineWise education program aiming to reduce or stop Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) treatment when GORD symptoms are well controlled.

Find out more by visiting the NPS MedicineWise website.

How can you raise the reduction of PPI treatment with a patient? Watch RACP President Mark Lane include the Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) Evolve recommendation in a difficult conversation with a patient.  

Engaging event examines vulnerable populations

Vulnerable populations were the centre of engaging presentations fronted by impressive local and international guest speakers at the 2018 Northern Territory Annual Scientific Meeting (NTASM) in Darwin on Friday, 26 and Saturday, 27 October.

Read more

Internal Medicine Journal November edition released

You can read the most recent Internal Medicine Journal (IMJ) online now.

The Editor’s Choice for the month is an original article by Christopher Kiely, Paul Pavli and Claire O’Brien –The microbiome of translocated bacterial populations in patients with and without inflammatory bowel disease.

Read the IMJ

Close overlay