Pot-pourri eBulletin 3 April 2020

President's Message

The last few weeks have been challenging for the medical community and you are no doubt feeling concerned with what is to come. The PCHD Council met last week and the conversation kept circling back to the impact of the current COVID-19 crisis on not just our global communities, but specifically on the health and wellbeing of healthcare workers, including our own CCH and PCH members. We were all as a committee, and as individuals, deeply concerned about how our colleagues will cope with the added burdens placed upon health professionals during this pandemic, which is global in scale and unprecedented in our lifetime. Not only do we need to look after our patients and our families, but we also need to look after ourselves so that we can stay healthy and whole to support our communities. I once again direct your attention to the College’s online health and wellbeing resources and ask that you pass this information along to colleagues who may be struggling. Stress, self-isolation, quarantine can make one feel very alone… but you are not alone. You are part of a global family of healthcare providers, all of whom are feeling the same kind of fear and stress during this event. Please don’t be afraid to reach out for help. We are all here for each other.

You may have seen the recent message from RACP President, Associate Professor Mark Lane outlining the work the College is doing amidst this crisis. I am pleased to see the advocacy around PPE and ongoing efforts for expanded access to telehealth. The PCHD is well aware that many of our consultations and examinations cannot be done via telehealth. We have raised these concerns and will be feeding this back to the Department of Health. Like you, I am concerned with the lack of paediatric ICU beds as we head into winter and I am working with a Paediatric Intensivist Specialist on some modelling on what we can expect. The RACP has also recently endorsed the Position Statement on Access to COVID-19 Prevention, Screening and Treatment of People with Intellectual or Developmental Disability, which is an important piece of work to ensure the healthcare needs of these groups continue to be met. The PCHD remains focused on the health of children and being a voice for the most vulnerable.

In some positive news, I am very pleased to announce that Dr Nitin Kapur is the incoming PCHD President-Elect. Nitin brings a wealth of experience as the DPE and Director of Clinical Training at Queensland Children’s Hospital and is passionate about the education and training of our members and the support provided to them. I am confident that Nitin will lead the PCHD effectively and congratulate him on this appointment.

There are a number of vacant positions on the PCHD Council for Australian members, please go to the RACP website for further information. During these uncertain times it is more important than ever to have a strong voice for children and for our profession. I urge anyone interested to apply.

Professor Paul Colditz
President, Paediatrics & Child Health Division

Chapter Satellite Day 2020 – important update

You should all be aware that, in consideration of the current COVID-19 health crisis, all RACP face-to-face events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, this will include the Chapter Satellite Day 2020 which was due to be held in Melbourne as an ancillary event of RACP Congress 2020 (also cancelled). The Chapter Satellite Day 2020 Working Group and the Chapter of Community Child Health Committee both deeply regret the need for this decision, but are confident that it has been taken in the best interests of the health of members and the Australian population overall.

We are pleased to advise that discussions are underway to enable some of the proposed program content (as promoted in last month’s Pot-Pourri) to be made available at an as-yet undetermined date in the form of online content. Whether this will be presented as a number of live-streamed events, or recorded and released as a series of webinars, remains to be confirmed. The Working Group and the PCHD Secretariat office are currently working to consider the best way to deliver content to members, and you will be advised as soon as this situation is clarified. Everyone involved remains enthusiastic about the content of this year’s program, and we are committed to delivering as much as we can to interested members in whatever format is available under the current circumstances.

We thank everyone involved – the CCCHC, the Working Group, and all speakers who have agreed to present – and ask that members watch this space for further updates.

PCHD committee vacancies – how you can contribute

Members will be aware that election and nomination processes have been underway this year to fill positions on all PCHD and other College committees. These newly formed committees will take up the reins from the first week of May 2020.

At the conclusion of the nomination process we have found that a number of positions remain unfilled on all PCHD committees:

This situation presents an exciting opportunity for PCHD and CCCHC members to nominate for these vacant positions, and contribute in a truly meaningful way to the strategic future of paediatrics and child health and community child health in Australasia. Information on available positions can be found on the RACP website, or you can contact the PCHD Secretariat on Paed@racp.edu.au for more details.

Members who are currently serving on these committees and who have not yet renominated for their positions but wish to (and are eligible to) may also submit applications via this current process.

COVID-19 Stage 5 Australian telehealth items

The College has been working closely with the Department of Health advocating to expand the current list of COVID-19 phone and/or telehealth services available for patients for specialist services on the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS). This is Stage 5 of the critical work of transforming the MBS to support Australians impacted by COVID-19. The College has been consulting with all specialty societies, Divisions, Faculties and Chapters to ensure that all remaining relevant and appropriate specialist and consultant physician and paediatrician items are given telehealth and telephone equivalent attendance items.

New education and training principles

A new set of education and training principles have been developed to guide the College’s decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide our position on potential impacts to training.

This includes decisions about the impacts of training time and progression through training as a result of exam changes and cancellation of training events.

Our new COVID-19 Training and Accreditation Advisory Group are discussing these issues and will advise on key decisions. The committee recommendations will be provided to the College Education Committee and we will endeavour to let you know the outcomes as soon as possible.

The new COVID-19 Exams Advisory Group are also discussing contingency planning for all postponed exams.

Update on postponed exams

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold we have had to consider all 2020 examinations.

Finding solutions to the impact of postponed exams has been a priority for the College to support trainees to continue progressing through their training and into their careers as physicians.

The COVID-19 Examinations Advisory Group which is made up of the chairs of all exam committees, and the College Education Committee have made the difficult decision to postpone most 2020 exams in light of COVID-19 and the increased demands on our health system and membership.

We are continuing to look at contingency plans for each exam and put measures in place to assist trainees through progression of training.

Divisional Clinical Examination (DCE) – postponed until 2021. Candidates eligible for the 2020 exam will be able to provisionally progress to Advanced Training in the new clinical year.

AFRM Module 1 Written Assessment – postponed to 2021.

AFRM Module 2 Clinical Assessment – postponed to 2021.

AFRM Fellowship Written (General) and (Paediatric) Examination – postponed to 2021.

AFRM Fellowship Clinical Examination (General) and (Paediatric) – postponed to 2021.

AFOEM Stage A WrittenStage B Written and Stage B Practical Exams – still under consideration.

AFPHM Oral Examination – postponed until 2021.

AChSHM Exit Assessment – currently proposed to be held as scheduled via video in August 2020.

We will provide trainees a minimum three months’ notice of any rescheduled exam to give time for preparation.

COVID-19 resources for paediatricians

We understand that many paediatricians are facing significant challenges at this time in dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. Please see the College’s COVID-19 webpage for high-level resources and information on what the College is doing to advocate for our members. This information is being continuously updated as information comes to hand. You may also have seen that the President, Associate Professor Mark Lane, is sending regular email updates to members on the College’s response to COVID-19.

Members have also provided a range of useful resources below, to support communications with children and their families and carers. Thank you to the members who have provided these. We would encourage you to continue to send resources to policy@racp.edu.au.

COVID-19 information for people affected by cancer

Cancer Australia has launched a dedicated hub providing coronavirus (COVID-19) information for people with cancer, health professionals and researchers.

People with compromised immune systems or pre-existing medical conditions, including cancer, may be at increased risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) and increased risk of more severe infection.

The website features information for people affected by cancer and a repository of up-to-date, evidence-based resources and guidance from some of the most trusted sources in Australia and around the world for people affected by cancer, health professionals and researchers in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

For more information on coronavirus (COVID-19) and cancer treatment, visit the hub.  

Concerns over increased alcohol use in the time of COVID-19

The World Health Organization has warned that alcohol is an ‘unhelpful coping strategy’ for the stress and isolation of COVID-19 lockdown. Professor Michael Farrell of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre says there is little doubt alcohol consumption will increase in this “time of great social anxiety and stress", especially among vulnerable people. 

Commonwealth Bank of Australia data shows alcohol sales have risen by 20.4 per cent compared to this time last year. Amid reported panic buying and stockpiling of alcohol, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation has expressed fears of increased domestic violence, accidents and injuries.

Trauma surgeons have warned that the availability of alcohol during the crisis, including via online sales and delivery, is likely to see an increase in the number of victims of domestic violence attending emergency departments. Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee John Crozier said emergency departments in Sydney and Newcastle were already dealing with the effects of the pandemic.

In addition to an increase in accidental and domestic violence-related injuries, increased consumption of alcohol will likely result in a raise in acute hospital presentations for cardiovascular disease, stroke and depression, putting even more pressure on Australia’s overextended health system.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan stepped in to mitigate these potential harms by placing limits on takeaway alcohol. The restrictions are designed to assist with the state’s COVID-19 response.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education CEO Caterina Giorgi says leaders must be able to deal with an unfolding crisis while acting to prevent future harm. “It would be an even greater tragedy if the fallout from COVID-19 was made far worse through a significant escalation of alcohol-fuelled harm in our community.”

RACP-supported restrictions on the trading hours for alcohol are especially needed in such times of an expanding physical and mental health crisis like COVID-19. 

Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy

The RACP was contacted by the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) to participate in the development of the Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The strategy, which is being co-chaired by Professor Frank Oberklaid FRACP and Professor Christel Middeldorp RANZCP, will provide a framework for preventing mental illness and reducing its impact on children, families and the community. At the initial meeting Fellows were asked to provide their views and experiences as experts in the sector. The RACP anticipates that we will be providing a submission to the consultation later in the strategy’s development.

Request for input from members: College submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

Disability and the NDIS has been a key ongoing policy priority for the College and the broader health sector. The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (the DRC) was established in April 2019 in response to community concern about widespread reports of violence against, and the neglect, abuse and exploitation of, people with disability.

The DRC’s terms of reference cover what should be done in all settings such as the home, schools, out-of-home care, the justice system, as well as in the disability support system to:

  • prevent, and better protect, people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • achieve best-practice in reporting and investigating of, and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • promote a more inclusive society that supports the independence of people with disability and their right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The DRC has released four issues papers to date: education and learninggroup homescriminal justice system and health care for people with cognitive disability.

The RACP’s Policy and Advocacy team have developed a draft submission which covers a range of areas that the DRC is interested in and that the College has a position on.

Members are encouraged to provide feedback, with particular regard to the sections where it is noted that there are no College positions yet. Please provide feedback to Rebecca Randall, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer, via RACPConsult@racp.edu.au by close of business Friday, 24 April 2020. We look forward to receiving your valuable feedback.

Access draft submission

The RACP’s 2020-2021 Pre-Budget Submission

More needs to be done to address the joint needs of investment in prevention and deep-seated health reform to better connect the Australian health system and address identifiable gaps in care. The College calls for the 2020-2021 Federal Budget to look longer term. Access the College’s 2020-2021 Pre-Budget Submission, which addresses the need for:

  • prevention strategies on obesity and alcohol-related harm
  • early intervention in mental and physical health of infants and children
  • calls for more integrated approaches to care and for fundamental reform of the aged care system.

Learn more

New online course: Working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers

Learn how to work more sensitively and effectively with migrant, refugee and asylum seeker patients in this new online course.

The course provides relevant facts and practical strategies for developing good cross-cultural communication and facilitating easier navigation of the healthcare system. The course includes the perspectives and stories of a diverse range of individuals to provide the full picture.

Accessible anywhere and optimised for mobile on-the-go learning, RACP Online Learning Resources are free for members and counts towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements.

Access the course

Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health March 2020 is available online

The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, Volume 56, Issue 3, March 2020 is now available on the JPC Wiley page

An early view is also available of future articles.

Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health – call for submissions

The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health is about to publish a series of papers on 'Research Methods'. The first two, to appear soon, are on 'Qualitative research' and on 'Conducting a systematic review'. The Journal welcomes submissions from RACP members. To submit suggestions for potential future topics (and offers to write them), please email Professor David Isaacs.

New Pomegranate podcast: Ep56: Billing in Byzantium

Australia has one of the best-value health systems in the world, but also some of the most complicated health regulations. Amongst the federal Medicare scheme, the state hospitals, the private health insurers and the patient, it’s not always clear how a provider should invoice their services.

To explain some of the fundamentals, this podcast features a former nurse and lawyer, Margaret Faux, CEO of Synapse Global Medical Administration. Faux describes areas of ambiguity in the legislation and the Medical Benefits Schedule which create confusion as to when and where certain services can be billed, or which items should not be claimed together. While there are many traps for well-intentioned providers and loopholes for the less well-intentioned, there are some simple solutions that would make medical billing much more streamlined.


  • Margaret Faux (CEO, Synapse Global Medical Administration)

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

My Health Record Webinar – Getting started

My Health Record is a secure online summary of an individual's health information available to all Australians. Healthcare providers authorised by their organisation can access My Health Record to view and add to their patients' health information. Understanding how to register and upload to My Health Record can be challenging.

Watch Professor Steven Boyages' interview of Carey Doolan from the Australian Digital Health Agency, where they explore and provide practical advice to help you register and upload to My Health Record.

View webinar

RACP’s Model of Chronic Care Management featured at IHCRC 2020

On 27 March, Co-Chair of the Integrated Care Working Group Dr Nick Buckmaster featured at the International Health Care Reform Virtual Conference presenting on complex subacute care and the RACP’s Model of Chronic Care Management.

Dr Buckmaster described how the healthcare system could be re-oriented away from episodic care bringing services together for the patient, and incorporating care plans linking care across sectors towards a more integrated approach. In practice, what this means is that a patient is supported and rehabilitated by a team, including a coordinator, a generalist specialist, GP and other key clinicians, such as other specialists and allied health care.

Latest news from ARACY

Read the latest bulletin from the Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth.

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'.

The Good Guys Commercial through Member Advantage

As we are all trying to adjust to this new way of the world, The Good Guys Commercial are committed to taking care of your needs in the best possible way during this time.

Whether it is a laptop or monitor to assist with new working from home arrangements, a microwave or small appliance for preparing healthy meals, a fridge, a washer or any other white goods – they can help with what you need and deliver to your door in the current and ever changing environment.

The team are operating as normal, and members will continue to be supported by TGG Commercial Sales Support Centre who are available to assist with any enquiries – Ph 1300 22 55 64 or Email  memberadvantage@thegoodguys.com.au

Visit your RACP Member Advantage website today to register for this benefit.

*Terms and conditions apply.

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