Western Australia — April 2018

A message from the Western Australian (WA) State Committee Chair

Welcome to the latest edition of the WA eNewsletter. The state newsletter is a welcome opportunity to keep you up-to-date on what is happening in Western Australia. This information has been tailored especially for you, the members in our region, covering our issues and our events.

As many of you will be aware, the last few weeks have been a tumultuous time for many of our exam-sitting trainees, supervisors, members and staff.  The experience of recent events has been enormously distressing for all those involved. Addressing the issues and progressing the learning outcomes is a priority and the communications of the work in progress are very much appreciated.  May I take this opportunity to express my grateful appreciation to all those trainees, supervisors and staff who have graciously demonstrated their resilience and compassion throughout what have been exceptionally challenging times.

Finally, this will be my last communication as State Committee Chair. As many of you may be aware, I became Chair of the State Committee in 2016, following in the eminent steps of Professor Kandiah. Our committee is a highly skilled and dedicated group of individuals who enthusiastically volunteer their time for all our benefits. Occupying the office of Chair has been both a humbling and immensely satisfying experience.  May I take this opportunity to warmly thank my fellow Committee members and our invaluable College support staff for all the support and guidance provided to me.   I would especially like to thank Dr Ian Wilson for his invaluable contribution to the Committee over the last three terms. 

Dr Michael Lucas, FAFOEM
Chair, WA State Committee

Action on Obesity and Alcohol: What needs to change?

The WA Preventative Health Summit held on Friday, 2 March 2018, was essentially an information transfer session with some opportunities to ask questions of the keynote speakers and panel members regarding issues in relation to obesity and alcohol abuse prevention.

The speakers were of a very high calibre and the presentations excellent. Barry Sandison, the Director of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, started the summit stressing the importance of data and evidence​. This set the scene for the rest of the day.

Jane Martin, as head of the Obesity Policy Coalition, outlined what is working in Australia but called for more government regulation and restrictions on sugary drinks and marketing. She confirmed that in the majority of situations, self–regulation doesn’t work and she advocates we should stop focusing on the individual and focus more on pricing, marketing and availability of unhealthy products.

Jane spoke of the value of partnerships with local government in creating environments that foster active living. She gave examples to illustrate how these partnerships can work, such as Your move Wanneroo, where the City of Wanneroo partnered with the State Government in 2015 to support residents to become more active and connected in their local community. The Live Lighter health promotion program was acknowledged many times as an intervention that was being effective.

The presentation was in-line with two of the RACP recommendations for the WA Government but there was no interest in item number one — provide equitable access to bariatric surgery in public hospitals. I believe this was because the summit was about prevention not treatment. Similarly, some of the RACP recommendations to the Commonwealth government were supported, such as the review of the health star rating system which has been acknowledged to provide incorrect information about sugar content in foods.

Wendy Casey, Head of the WA Department of Health’s Aboriginal Health Policy Directorate, spoke of the link between unhealthy lifestyles and the effects of colonisation. Wendy stressed the importance of considering the social determinants of health, such as racism, culture, education, housing and food security, in developing interventions that will succeed.

Professor Steve Allsop gave an excellent presentation on the ubiquitous nature of alcohol in our society and how hard it is to control.  However, the message was very clear and completely in-line with the RACP recommendations for the WA government; that it is all about availability, influenced by price.

The need for $1.50 ​minimum ​unit price (MUP) was discussed. The impact of this on most people would be minimum and it would target the most at risk and would not unfairly disadvantage them. A​ need to control location and density of alcohol outlets, and reduce extended training hours, was also discussed in the context of availability issues.

Marketing and its effectiveness, particularly with younger age groups, was also mentioned. Raising the minimum age for drinking was mentioned but it was felt this was unlikely to occur.

Once again despite Steve stating that early intervention and treatment of individuals with a drinking problem is worthwhile, there was little discussion about investing in more quality and effective treatment services because that was not the focus of the Summit.

The final panel session on alcohol was interesting as it contained short presentations from Terry Slevin, from the Cancer Council, who is always good value.  Associate Professor Diana Ergerton-Warburton gave a passionate and personal account of the impact of alcohol on emergency department presentations and harm, and the value of reducing trading hours in addressing this situation.  Short presentations were also made by Professor Tanya Chikritzha from The Alcohol Policy Research Team at Curtin University and Julia Stafford, the Executive Officer of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol.

Professor Jonathan Carapetis gave an excellent wrap up. He stressed to the Minister, who was present all afternoon, that minimum unit ​pricing needs to happen as a priority. He highlighted that not enough discussion had occurred regarding active living and there was not much focus on responding to the problems in Aboriginal communities​.

The Minister closed the day acknowledging the calibre of the speakers and that he had a clear message to make minimum unit pricing happen. Everyone was encouraged to continue contributing on line.

Dr Marisa Gilles, FAFPHM

Rural Physicians Forum

The sixth ​annual Rural Physicians Forum was held at the RACP WA regional offices on Saturday, 18 November 2017. The event was fully subscribed and attracted attendees from all corners of the state.

Dr Stephen Hinton was lead fellow for the event and put together an outstanding program.

Clinical updates​, practical tips from a range of specialists and a review of the current status of the medicinal ​cannabis debate in WA provided invaluable advice for rural practitioners.

A roundtable discussion at the Rural Physicians Workshop identified the need for a mechanism to engender links between rural physicians and to improve links to the Regional Committee. To that end it was determined to establish the Rural Physicians Net​work.

The Golden Teaspoon Award — for the presentation which had the most direct impact on the clinical practice of attendees — was awarded to Dr Kirsten Auret, in recognition of her outstanding efforts in supporting the rural physician ​community. 

Western Australian Rural Physicians’ Network (RPN) Terms of Reference

This network is a grassroots group promoting collegiality and communication between the specialist physicians servicing rural communities throughout Western Australia.

It was formed in 2012 to provide Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities, especially for rural physicians. It fosters peer-to-peer support​, encourages training physicians to consider a career in the country and advocates for the role of physicians in providing a high quality and sustainable medical workforce in rural WA.

View the RPN Terms of Reference online. For additional ​information about the RPN or Rural Physicians Workshops please email RACPWA@racp.edu.au

Promoting the health benefits of good work

Healthcare Professionals: promoting the health benefits of good work was the theme ​of the Australian Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW) Signatory Steering Group forum held at the Amberly Estate on Friday, 17 November 2017.

The focus on healthcare sector staff proved hugely popular with 120 people attending. The program included a range of topics from academic, ​public sector, non-government organisation and commercial sector representatives.

A highlight was hearing from Mr Mark Devenyns. His wellbeing program at Silver Chain healthcare and aged care has reduced lost time injuries by 70% and workers compensation premiums by 30%.

Planning for the next HBGW Forum is underway.

Visit the RACP website for additional information on the Health Benefits of Good Work Initiative.

Careers expo

The annual Postgraduate Medical Careers Expo was held on Tuesday, 20 March 2018 at the University Club of Western Australia. Hosted by Professor Richard Tarala, the event was well attended and the College was represented by the Directors of Physician Education from the Primary Employing Health Services and Proffesor Tim Bates.

There was significant interest in the various training opportunities available from the RACP. More prospective trainees are interested in dual training with an adult medicine and paediatric focus, as well as concurrent ​Chapter sub-specialisation.

Visit the Postgraduate Medical Council of Western Australia website for more information.

Basic Training Forum

The Western Australian Trainees’ Committee presented a ​forum for Basic Trainees at the Bruce Hunt Lecture Theatre in Royal Perth Hospital on ​Thursday, 22 March 2018.

Thirty attendees heard from both peers and mentors on topics such as wellness, work-life balance, portfolio development, exam preparation and preparation for beginning Advanced Training.

RACP WA Member Support Officer Helen Prince presented a demonstration of the Trainee Portal and PREP tools.

A panel discussion on preparation for advanced training was outstanding, offering practical tips and information to candidates hoping to pursue specialty training in Western Australia.

Options such as Overseas fellowships, PhD and dual training with other colleges were explored. ProfessorTim Bates provided a recruiter’s perspective and members of the WA Trainees’ Committee offered candidate perspectives, as many are now seeking Advanced Training positions.

WA Regional Committee update

It is election time once again and the WA Regional Office would like to acknowledge the two Committee members whose terms are coming to an end. 

Dr Michael Lucas, FAFOEM and Dr Ian Wilson FAFRM have represented their Faculties for three consecutive terms on the Regional Committee.

Dr Lucas has also served as Chair of the College Policy ​& Advocacy Committee. He has been a College Council representative for the past two years.

It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you both and on behalf of the rest of the committee and the ​staff in the Western Australian regional office, thank you for your expertise, passion and commitment.  We wish you all the very best in future endeavours. ​

Health and wellbeing resources

The RACP recognise​s the importance of supporting the health and wellbeing of medical practitioners. Maintaining healthy mental, physical and social wellbeing ensures specialists can practice effectively throughout their careers, including during training.

In collaboration with partners across the sector, the RACP developed a range of resources to support the health and wellbeing of ​physicians. You can view the health and wellbeing resources on the RACP website

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