Pot-pourri eBulletin 29 May 2020

President's Message

It is a pleasure to write my first message to you as PCHD President.

Last week the first piece of business was to review the high number of applications received from the membership to join the PCHD Council and its committees. It was wonderful to see so many enthusiastic trainees and Fellows put their hand up to be involved in the Division. I encourage all members who were unsuccessful in joining to keep their eye out for future opportunities.

May I present our Council members to you:



PCHD President-Elect

Associate Professor Nitin Kapur

Elected member

Dr Divyesh Mehta

Elected member

Professor Julie McGaughran

Elected member (casual vacancy)

Dr Daryl Cheng

Elected member (casual vacancy)

Professor David Pincus

Elected member (casual vacancy)

Dr Elizabeth Pickford

Elected member (casual vacancy)

Dr Sadasivam Suresh

Aotearoa New Zealand representative

Dr Pat Tuohy

Aotearoa New Zealand representative

Dr David Newman

Adolescent & Young Adult Medicine Chair

Dr Simon Denny

Chapter of Community Child Health Chair

Dr Chris Pearson (until May 2021)

CPD representative

Dr Gopinath Subramanian

PCHD Policy & Advocacy Chair

Dr Pat Tuohy (until May 2021)

PDEC representative

Associate Professor Paul Fullerton

PCHD Research Committee Chair

Associate Professor Margie Danchin

The two trainee positions will be appointed shortly as this is conducted via the College Trainees’ Committee. The PCHD Council will hold its first meeting on Wednesday,17 June and I look forward to meeting everyone virtually.

It is important to understand the landscape of paediatric conditions to ensure sustainable delivery of high-quality healthcare including matching workforce with community needs. Recently I met with Professor Elizabeth Elliott and Dr Anne Morris from the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit (APSU). Our Fellows have supported this program since inception in 1993 by contributing to surveillance of rare childhood diseases, complications of common diseases or adverse effects of treatment. Over 300 individual researchers and national organisations have studied over 70 rare conditions, identified more than 8,000 cases and produced more than 300 publications. Joining the APSU is an opportunity to contribute to the identification of research priorities, inform public health policy and guide clinical practice. The PCHD has had a long engagement with the APSU and I encourage all Fellows to join by completing the online form.

Some positive news since the cancellation of Congress is that many PCHD sessions will now be made available online. The Chapter Satellite day is also moving to webinar format, with these being made available for viewing on the College website. The first webinar for the Satellite Day will be presented by Associate Professor Jill Sewell live on Wednesday, 3 June, 6pm AEST. I encourage those interested to attend. You can register via the webinar registration webpage.

Clinical Professor Catherine Choong
PCHD President

From the President-elect

I am excited to step into the role of President-elect of the PCHD, a division which I have represented as an elected member of its council over the last six years. I hope I can hit the ground running in supporting the remarkable work being done at the College in the education and advocacy spaces, and continue to be a strong voice in advocating for children facing health inequalities and mental health concerns and vulnerable children. I will continue to support the development of the Evolve initiative, having drafted the paediatric respiratory Evolve recommendation as the then representative of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand. Similarly, development of the paediatric College Learning Series will be one of my priorities. You can see one of my lectures on spirometry on that platform.

A lot has already been done over the last few years at the College to improve and streamline training and education, I will continue to be closely involved in the new curriculum development as well as the launch of the competency-based training program of the College. I am excited to see the new TRACC application for monitoring the trainees’ journey and progress over the training program.

I do wish for our College to play a bigger role in supporting paediatric research and I will try to make research a core issue, just like education and advocacy. I will also endeavour to bring the College closer to its membership. I always say in many forums, “The College is not this external body which is separate from us; we are the College”.

A bit about myself, I am a respiratory and sleep paediatrician at the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane and the Director of Paediatric Education and Director of Clinical Training at the same hospital. I look forward to meeting (face-to-face or virtually), many of you over the next four years. I would also love to hear from you all to discuss the ways we can further improve the working of our PCHD.

Associate Professor Nitin Kapur

Associate Professor Nitin Kapur

Updates on Advanced Training Curricula Renewal 

The common standards for Advanced Training curricula have now been finalised.

Thank you to all members who participated in consultation activities on the draft common standards throughout 2019. Your feedback was used to identify the content that is common across the Advanced Training programs and to refine that content.

There is more work to be done to develop appropriate competencies for cultural competence. We will continue development and consultation in this area. 

This year we will also focus on developing the common elements of the learning, teaching and assessment programs that will support the new Advanced Training curricula. 

Some specialties will also start developing their program-specific curriculum content with assistance from the Curriculum Advisory Group and the RACP Curriculum Team.

Expressions of Interest – College Education Committee Chair

The RACP Board is seeking Expressions of Interest for the Chair of the College Education Committee (CEC) which is the peak committee overseeing all education, training and assessment policy and strategy.

The Chair of the CEC will be appointed by an Expression of Interest process with selection and approval by the Board.

As Chair, the successful applicant will need to commit to attending all meetings throughout the year. Meetings are held three times per year face-to-face, with at least two additional teleconference meetings or as required. There will also be a requirement, as Chair, to participate in several assessment and education committees of the College and associated workshops.

Read the full EOI

Apply for the new role of RACP Executive General Manager Strategy and People and Dean of the College

We are recruiting for a strategic leadership role which has been newly created for an RACP Fellow. 
The Executive General Manager Strategy and People and Dean of the College is an integral component of our Senior Leadership Team. The successful applicant will play a significant role in enhancing the strategic impact of the College, representing the greater membership and enhancing the strength of the partnership between members and staff. 

About the role

Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer you will be a leader of the RACP, managing several business areas including the Strategic Coordination Unit, the College Foundation, International Partnerships, the Office of the Dean and People and Culture (formerly HR). 

In this new role you’ll help shape our new direction by delivering a physician’s perspective across the entire College that supports, engages and represents our membership base. You will be a trusted adviser to the Board, its Peak Committees and the CEO. You’ll also play a key role interacting with external stakeholders to evolve the model of healthcare in both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. 

This high-profile role is ideal if you are looking to expand your career beyond clinical delivery into organisational leadership and development. 

More information about this critical new role is available in the job advertisement and position description

Howard Williams Medal Nominations

Do you have a colleague who deserves to be recognised for their achievements and contribution to improving the health of children and young people in Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand? Nominate them for the Howard Williams Medal. The Medal is awarded to a selected Fellow by the College each year at the RACP Congress, where the recipient is given the opportunity to give an oration regarding their contribution.

Nominations are open from Monday, 15 June to Monday, 10 August 2020.

For further details on these and other prizes, please visit the Foundation webpage.

Eric Susman Prize Nominations

The Eric Susman Prize is awarded by the College annually to recognise a Fellow for their achievements and contribution to the field of internal medicine (adult medicine and paediatrics) in the areas of research, teaching and/or clinical medicine.

Nominations are open from Monday, 15 June to Monday, 31 August 2020.

For further details on these and other prizes, please visit the Foundation webpage.

Research Awards and Travel Grants

Don’t miss your chance to apply for funding for 2021 under the following award categories:

The Bushell Travelling Fellowship in Medicine and the Allied Sciences and the Robert and Elizabeth Albert Travel Grant are available to provide support to Fellows and trainees pursuing research endeavours overseas. Applications for Travel Grants open Monday, 1 June 2020.

There are also other grants being offered in the Research Entry Scholarships, and Research Development Scholarship categories which provide research funding for 2021.

Full details for these opportunities are available on the RACP Foundation webpage.

Trainee Research Awards proceeding in 2020

Applications for Trainee Research Awards open from Wednesday, 1 July to Monday, 31 August 2020. Trainees and new Fellows undertaking post-Fellowship training are encouraged to apply.

The Trainee Research Awards provide a wonderful opportunity to trainees to do an oral presentation of their research at an Australian regional and Aotearoa New Zealand event. The best presenters from each local event are invited to be part of the Research and Innovation stream at the 2021 RACP Congress.

Please send your abstract submissions or enquiries by email to your respective regional RACP office.

AFOEM COVID-19 – Guidance for pregnant healthcare workers now available online

The Australian Government’s Infection Control Expert Group has advised they have endorsed the AFOEM COVID-19 – Guidance for pregnant healthcare workers.

This document is now available online via the RACP COVID-19 webpage under Advice and news > Clinical advice for physicians.

Access the AFOEM COVID-19 – Guidance for pregnant healthcare workers online.

Apply for Aotearoa New Zealand rural Advanced Training positions

Applications are now open for rural Advanced Training positions for general paediatrics in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Applications close Sunday, 28 June and interviews will take place in July. Offers will be made on Monday, 10 August, with acceptance by Monday, 17 August. This timeline has been generally agreed and is in keeping with proposed National RMO recruitment dates.

For more information, please contact the paediatric or HR departments in the District Health Boards of your choice.

Aotearoa New Zealand – Budget 2020 

On 14 May 2020, the New Zealand Government delivered Budget 2020, Wellbeing Budget: Rebuilding Together. In response, the RACP released two media statements entitled, ‘Doctors say new health funding must prioritise equity’ and ‘Sustained focus on wellbeing essential to support Aotearoa NZ post-COVID-19’.

The first of these releases welcomes the focus and funding in Budget 2020 for the Aotearoa New Zealand health system, including $3.92b over four years for District Health Boards (DHBs) and a one-off boost of $282.5m to address the backlog of elective procedures and hospital appointments. This investment provides an opportunity for equity to be placed at the forefront of decision-making and to improve health outcomes for Māori and Pasifika facing the reality that, in the face of prognostication and health rationing algorithms, they often fare worse in our health system.

As Dr George Laking, Aotearoa New Zealand President said “Right now, health policy is economic policy, it’s social policy and fiscal policy. The investment we make in health as a country will support our social, economic, physical and environmental wellbeing, as Aotearoa recovers and rebuilds through the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The second of these releases focuses on changes made to the social support system and how they influence the social determinants of health – the ‘causes of the causes’ of poor health and wellbeing. The social determinants of health are at the heart of the RACP’s Making It The Norm campaign, which calls for Whānau WellbeingHealthy Housing and Good Work to become the norm in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dr Laking said that “The Budget places an emphasis, naturally, on jobs and training. The RACP sees work and employment as inextricably linked to housing and whānau wellbeing. We call on the Government to prioritise sustained investment in addressing the social determinants of health. 

“Budget 2020 still only skirts the edges of long-awaited systemic change in social security. We welcome the direction of change but would support the Government going further to support whānau wellbeing.”

This is something that will be ever more important in the continually evolving world of COVID-19 and the resultant economic shock.

New resources for physicians who work with people with disability from the Australian Government

The Commonwealth Department of Health recently developed resources about COVID-19 for people with a disability. The website provides a simple overview of issues relating to people with a disability, including the Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability. In her capacity as President of the Australian Association of Disability Medicine, President-elect Jacki Small was part of the advisory committee which developed the resources and which has continued meeting to oversee the implementation of the plan.

The COVID-19 plan for people with a disability outlines how key activities will operate and how the Australian public can support the national response. The following information is provided in the plan:

  • what we know about the disease and the outbreak
  • what sort of risk COVID‐19 represents
  • what the health sector will be doing to respond
  • how the Government’s response will affect people
  • what people can do to contribute
  • how people can manage their own risk, the risk to their families and their communities.

An easy-read version of the plan is also available.

New Pomegranate podcast: Ep58: Compliance and the Free Market

In this episode we continue the discussion from Episode 56 about medical billing in Australia. Almost 500 million Medicare rebates are processed every year and for the most part these are claimed appropriately. But non-compliant billing could be costing the health system over $2 billion annually. The vast majority of this comes down to misunderstanding of the conditions around MBS items, according to our guest Loryn Einstein of Medical Billing Experts.

Every year the Department of Health shifts its attention onto a different specialty area to look at the statistical spread of claiming behaviour. Practitioners at the top-end of the curve receive warning letters and flagged practitioners who persist with unaccountable billing behaviour will have their practice audited more thoroughly. Finally, they may be referred to the Professional Services Review, a sort of judicial panel made up of clinical peers.

Questions have been raised by professional bodies and lawyers about the sensitivity of these processes to clinical nuance or procedural fairness, and the lack of education available to practitioners. We hear responses to such concerns from the Department of Health.

Finally, we take a look at the huge range of private medical fees in Australia. Loryn Einstein considers how factors like regulation and supply and demand shape this market.

Fellows of the RACP can claim CPD credits via MyCPD for listening to this episode and reading the resources.

Subscribe to Pomegranate Health in Apple iTunesSpotify or any Android podcasting app.

Listen to podcast

Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health May 2020 is available online

The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, Volume 56, Issue 5, May 2020 is now available on the JPC Wiley page

An early view is also available of future articles.

No more time to waste: Pregnancy warning labels on alcoholic products 

It has taken over two decades since the first calls for effective and mandatory alcohol pregnancy labelling in Australia for the issue to become subject to government regulation. For well over a decade now the RACP has actively supported this crucial and cost-effective intervention to reduce alcohol-related harm amongst the most vulnerable – children. 

In March 2020, when a new, mandatory evidence-based regime recommended by Food Safety Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) finally seemed within reach, then-RACP President Associate Professor Mark Lane sent a letter of support for the measure to all federal, state and territory Ministers responsible for approving the scheme. Yet again, the approval of best-practice labelling was delayed because of industry pressure.  

As FSANZ concludes another review of the scheme and the Ministers prepare to again debate the benefits of the proposal, the College will once more appeal to the law-makers to endorse this overdue yet vital initiative. With the estimated 75,000 alcohol-exposed pregnancies in Australia each year, the time for decisive government action on effective pregnancy warnings on alcohol products is long past. 

Over June and July, we will be urging the responsible Ministers to approve the labelling scheme as originally recommended by FSANZ. We ask you to support our effort by engaging with RACP media and social media as we continue to advocate for this indisputable gain for alcohol harm reduction across Australia.

Apply for a Digital Health Scholarship 

In partnership with the Australian Digital Health Agency, the RACP are offering digital health scholarships to eligible Australian Fellows and trainees. 

Ten $4,000 scholarships are available for Fellows and trainees familiar with or practicing the use of My Health Record and/or other digital health initiatives in the healthcare environment.

Applicants must:

  • be an RACP Fellow or trainee who resides in Australia
  • be currently employed in a public or private accredited clinical environment
  • have a recent, demonstrated record of adopting various digital health initiatives.

Applications close on Wednesday, 10 June 2020.

For further information and to apply visit the EOI webpage

Heath Services Research Association of Australia and New Zealand (HSRAANZ) Podcast: Health services research during COVID-19

In this new series of short podcasts, the HSRAANZ President Professor Rachael Morton interviews leading health services researchers on health services research during COVID-19.  How is the pandemic impacting the health system and the way that we conduct research?

In her first interview, Professor Morton caught up with Professor Harriet Hiscock to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on her clinical practice and her research. Professor Hiscock is a consultant paediatrician and National Health and Medical Research Council Practitioner Fellow. She is Associate Director, Research at the Centre for Community Child Health, Director of the Royal Children's Hospital Health Services Research Unit and Group Leader, Health Services, Murdoch Children's Research Institute. In the interview Professor Morton and Professor Hiscock discuss how COVID-19 is affecting the health and wellbeing of children and how services are being re-designed to meet the challenges of the crisis. They consider what might be the longer-term impacts and if there might be unexpected benefits of changes to how care is currently offered, and what research will be needed to ensure that we can measure the impacts and benefits of these changes?

Watch the interview with Professor Hiscock

Pot-pourri submissions welcome

To submit an article for publishing in Pot-pourri, please email paed@racp.edu.au. The article should be no more than 350 words. If you would like to submit an image with your article, it would be assumed that you have received appropriate permission to use the photo and it needs to be of high resolution, above 300 dpi. Please note that articles may need to be edited by the RACP Communications Team.

Update your details with the College

Did you know that you can now update your address details online? Simply Login to MyRACP and go to 'Edit my details'.
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