The President's Message – 29 January 2021
I’d like to start by wishing you a happy new year and congratulating our members who were recognised in the 2021 Aotearoa New Zealand New Year Honours and Australia Day Honours lists. We had 26 members who were awarded for their contribution to medicine and their community this year. I am always so proud of our membership and to see so many honoured this year is a reminder of the great work that is being done by so many. I encourage you to look over the full list of Honour recipients.
Speaking of amazing work, we’ve announced the recipients of the 2020 RACP College Medal and prizes. We really do have a wealth of outstanding talent in our membership.
The year ahead
2020 was certainly a big year for the entire medical community and the role that physicians have played so far has been incredible. We still have a long way to go before a vaccine is completely rolled out across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand though.
Be aware of burnout and your mental health in the weeks and months ahead. Please keep an eye out for your colleagues and trainees. Remember, our RACP Support Program is available to you whenever you need it. It’s a free hotline which is open 24/7. Managed by Converge International, it’s completely confidential.
We already have some exciting events planned for 2021, including Congress. COVID has taught us to be flexible and adaptable, and RACP Congress 2021 is just that. This year we’ll have face-to-face meetings in six different locations as well as a digital experience for those unable to attend in person. You can read more about it in the eBulletin item below.
The Board is also already back at work, looking at what we can do to support and serve members this year. We have a series of Conversations with the Board to be run over Zoom in the next few months. We’re looking forward to connecting with you and hearing your thoughts. Look out for the email invitation in the next few weeks.
A reminder that nominations are now open for two Member Director positions on the Board and the Aotearoa President-elect. Information about how to nominate, including position descriptions can be found on the RACP webpage. Nominations close Monday, 15 February 2021.
We are on course to have major changes to the College Constitution agreed at the 2022 AGM. As you will know, the Constitution is the overarching governing document of the College. It is now out-dated, given the fixed timelines in it have now passed. The review is an opportunity to consider and vote on structural change to better reflect your needs.
Keep watching for more information on the review over coming weeks.
Professor John Wilson AM
Congratulations to the 26 RACP Fellows recognised in the 2021 Australia Day and Aotearoa New Zealand New Year Honours lists. We would also like to congratulate Professor Brendan Murphy who is the ACT state recipient of the Australian of the Year 2021.
These awards highlight the outstanding work RACP members do and the importance of that work in local, national and international communities.
Please watch this short video from RACP President, Professor John Wilson AM, as he congratulates the recipients of the 2020 College prizes and medals.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, we can confirm it’s not mandatory to record your CPD activities in MyCPD for 2020, although it’s encouraged where possible. Your 2020 MyCPD record will remain open until 31 March 2021 if you wish to record your activities. Following this, a CPD certificate will be available for those who have recorded a minimum of 100 recognised credits.
The Medical Board of Australia and The Medical Council of New Zealand have decided that medical practitioners will need to resume meeting CPD requirements from 2021. We acknowledge the complexity of your changed environment and are here to support you in completing valuable and achievable CPD this year. Please review the 2021 MyCPD Framework to ensure you are familiar with your requirements and explore the College’s CPD resources in the MyCPD Interactive Handbook and the Online Learning Resources platform.
Chair position open on the Aotearoa New Zealand CPD Committee
Are you a Fellow practising in Aotearoa New Zealand with a desire to promote meaningful CPD? Please read the Aotearoa New Zealand CPD Committee chair vacancy for further details on the role description and expression of interest form.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact the CPD Team if you have any questions or feedback – we’re here to help.
AU: 1300 697 227 or MyCPD@racp.edu.au
NZ: 64 4 460 8122 or MyCPD@racp.org.nz
Log in to MyCPD
The Australian Government released the COVID-19 vaccine national rollout strategy on 7 January 2021. The strategy outlines that frontline healthcare workers will receive the vaccine in Phase 1a, and other healthcare workers in Phase 1b. The strategy is likely to employ a range of vaccines, all of which will undergo a thorough review process by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to ensure their efficacy and safety. Details of Australia’s vaccine agreements can be found on the Australian Government Department of Health website. The TGA has now approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, and is expected to make a determination on the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine soon after considering the evidence from the Phase 3 trials.
We will be hosting a series of webinars beginning in February 2021 on COVID-19 vaccinations where members can hear from, and ask questions of, key medical and Government experts involved in designing and implementing the roll-out of vaccines. The first webinar will be held on Thursday, 25 February 2021 from 5.30pm to 7.30pm (AEDT) or 7.30pm to 9.30pm (NZDT). We are very pleased to announce that Professor Paul Kelly, Australian Government Chief Medical Officer has agreed to attend. More details will be available soon. The College is investigating the opportunity to hold a similar webinar to update members on Aotearoa New Zealand COVID-19 vaccine planning.
We continue to liaise with and advocate to Governments to ensure that physician perspectives are central to the design and implementation of the roll-out. We have included relevant information on the RACP’s COVID-19 webpage. Further information can also be found on the Australian Government Department of Health website, where you can also register for updates.
Final call for the RACP President's Indigenous Congress Prize 2021
The selected applicant for the RACP President's Indigenous Congress Prize will receive support to attend RACP Congress 2021. This will help them gain educational and networking opportunities, as well as exposure to career pathways within the College. The prize is open to medical students, junior medical officers and RACP trainees who identify as an Indigenous Australian or Māori. Please encourage anyone you know who is eligible to apply before the deadline, Monday, 1 February 2021.
2021 RACP Indigenous Health Scholarship Program recipients
Congratulations to our new recipients for the 2021 RACP Indigenous Health Scholarship Program:
- Dr Matthew French: College Indigenous Health Scholarship
- Dr Blake Jones: RACP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Indigenous Health Scholarship
- Dr Fergus Stewart: RACP Aotearoa Māori Health Scholarship
These scholarships are open to those who identify and are recognised as an Indigenous Australian, Māori or Pacific Islander. Each scholarship provides a multi-year funded pathway through RACP training in Australia and/or Aotearoa New Zealand.
RACP Congress 2021 is only a few months away and the program continues to expand. We are pleased to announce we are partnering with a number of specialty societies to present clinical updates exclusively at RACP Congress 2021. Make sure you keep up-to-date with the latest research when you attend Congress this year. With an expansive list of topics and the ability to revisit all the presentations across the specialties at your leisure through the online platform, there has never been a better reason to attend Congress. To see the topics and register to attend, visit the RACP Congress website.
In recent years, the Art in Medicine experience has become a popular aspect of RACP Congress. In 2021, the program continues to grow. This year, the program has welcomed numerous applicants who use their creative and artistic efforts in the pursuit of wellness and mental health through their chosen art. The Art in Medicine experience will showcase a combination of performances, and engaging sessions and promises to be another standout aspect of RACP Congress 2021.
If you'd like to be a part of this program, either in person at one of our six event locations, or virtually please visit the RACP Congress 2021 Art In Medicine webpage to find out more.
We would like to congratulate Carol Pizzuti for her research project
'Using eHealth Data to Design Personalised CME Programs for Australasian Medical Practitioners' being included in the Virtual Research Exchange at ACCME 2021 Meeting: Embracing Change
, which is taking place virtually from 27 to 29 April 2021. Carol’s research project is part of the College partnership with the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre
We have released a landmark statement on Indigenous child health in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, providing concrete steps that paediatricians, health professionals and the healthcare system can take to improve the health of Indigenous children in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.
Dr Danny de Lore, Māori paediatrician, led the RACP working group that worked closely with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori people to develop a statement that provides tools and actions for health professionals to ensure more equitable health outcomes for Indigenous children in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.
The statement calls on physicians to:
- recognise the strength and resilience of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander people and Māori communities.
- understand how privilege and institutional racism operates within healthcare systems and be open to naming it.
All RACP members are encouraged to read the statement and implement the key messages in their practice and workplace.
A series of digital health webinars has been developed to help you better understand digital health initiatives. The webinars cover My Health Record, available systems and compliance requirements. To find out more and to register visit this RACP webpage.
The webinars have been developed by the Australian Digital Health Agency, who are responsible for the delivery of Australia's National Digital Health Strategy. The Strategy's key pillars include driving innovation, education and workforce development, enhanced models of care, interoperability and data quality, medicines safety, My Health Record and secure messaging.
Find out more
The RACP Clinical Ethics Position Statement has been produced by the Clinical Ethics Working Party led by Dr Linda Sheahan. Recognising that ethics is fundamental to clinical practice, the position statement advocates for a more formalised approach to clinical ethics, to better support practitioners in the contemporary health context.
Access all the information and tools you need to prepare for and conduct culturally competent and patient-centred telehealth consultations in this new online telehealth course. We understand you’re busy, so we’ve made sure RACP Online Learning Resources are accessible anywhere and optimised for mobile on-the-go learning. Our courses are designed to enable you to dip in and out, or just do the parts that are relevant to you.
In November 2020, Dr Olivier Salvado, Head of Imaging and Computer Vision at CSIRO and Associate Professor Clair Sullivan, Program Lead at Qld Digital Health Academy Research Group, delivered an engaging webinar on Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare: Principles, Challenges and Opportunities.
An impressive 23 questions were asked during the Q and A section of the webinar. Dr Salvado is now preparing a second Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare Webinar, where he will be answering these questions.
To have your say on which questions and topics Dr Salvado covers in his next webinar, please complete this poll and select up to eight questions which you would most like to see answered during the next webinar. We are currently planning the second artificial intelligence webinar, so an invitation will be sent to you shortly.
Watch the recording of the Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare: Principles, Challenges and Opportunities webinar on Medflix.
This year, Evolve will host a series of webinars that will explore interesting topics relevant to low-value practice. The inaugural webinar will feature Professor Ian Scott who will be presenting on ‘Cognitive biases in clinical decision making’. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, 16 February 2021, from 6pm to 7pm (AEDT), or from 8pm to 9pm (NZDT).
Behavioural science tells us that our decision making is influenced by biases, and physicians are not immune to this. Join Professor Scott in a discussion about the cognitive biases that physicians experience in their clinical decision making and how this can play a role in the continued delivery of low-value care.
The Aotearoa New Zealand Trainees' Day will be held on Rāhoroi, 27 Poutū-te-rangi (Saturday, 27 March 2021) at the Millennium Hotel in Rotorua. All Aotearoa New Zealand trainees are encouraged to register for this important event.
Did you know you may be able to attend for free? Aotearoa New Zealand Trainees’ Day is supported as a recognised skills day by Aotearoa New Zealand District Health Boards and attendance costs may be reimbursed. Ask us how.
Some of the highlights of the program include:
- Basic Training Orientation by Dr Justin Wilde
- Research 101 by Dr Jin Russell
- New Fellows' Orientation by Dr Jeff Brown
- The post-COVID-19 world: Panel discussion
- How to have it all: Being yourself while also being a doctor by Dr Renee Liang.
In late 2020, the Weight Issues Network (WIN) launched its advocacy report, The Personal Cost of Weight Issues 2020. WIN is a partner of the Obesity Collective and an emerging network of people whose lives are directly or indirectly affected by overweight or obesity. WIN works to change common misperceptions of obesity, reduce weight discrimination and promote actions that will minimise the impacts of the condition.
The report discusses perspectives of people with lived experience of obesity and offers key recommendations for reducing weight bias in healthcare and other settings. The recommendations aim to assist healthcare professionals and decision-makers in understanding what makes a difference from the perspective of people living with obesity. A range of clinical and public health experts have developed statements of support for the recommendations. The full report is available on the WIN website.
To assist in shifting the narrative on obesity from shame and personal blame to empathetic action, the Collective and the University of Sydney conducted focus group-based research into the factors that might encourage the reduction of stigma associated with obesity. Key findings of the research are collected in the new report, Changing perceptions to reduce the stigma of obesity.
A reminder that the RACP has been invited to join a call for new living Clinical Practice Guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children in Australia. The Collective has produced a brief call to action that the College is asked to endorse as part of a wider campaign. We invite your endorsement of this document by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by close of business Friday, 5 February 2021.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has a newly-opened targeted consultation on efficacy monographs for listed medicines. The purpose of this consultation is to provide interested parties with an opportunity to provide feedback on two draft efficacy monographs that have been developed for vitamins B12 and B6 and to help refine their content.
Specifically, the TGA is seeking feedback on whether:
- the content of the monographs is suitable for their intended purpose, and
- the information included in the evidence statements is adequate to support the efficacy of the proposed indications.
The consultation can be accessed through the Consultation Hub. The consultation period closes on Friday, 26 February 2021 at 5pm AEDT. If you have any questions about the consultation process, please contact the Complementary and Over-the-Counter Medicines Branch.
The Australian Department of Health has issued an important safety alert regarding the administration of Zostavax, a live viral vaccine for prevention of shingles. Zostavax is registered for use in people aged over 50 years, and available under the National Immunisation Program for those aged between 70 and 79 and is a live, attenuated varicella-zoster virus vaccine that must not be given to people with current or recent severe immunocompromising conditions from either a primary or acquired medical condition or medical treatment.
- people who are immunocompromised
- people who have medical conditions that place them at risk of immunocompromise
- people receiving low doses of immunosuppressive medication.
Three deaths have occurred since 2017 due to disseminated vaccine-related varicella-zoster virus infection following Zostavax administration. It is important that health professionals are aware of the potential for this very rare adverse event when considering the appropriateness of Zostavax for their patients.
The Australian Immunisation Handbook contains specific guidance about Zostavax administration in patients who are immunocompromised or have medical conditions that place them at risk of immunocompromise. This guidance includes a checklist on contraindications for specific immunosuppressive medications, including prednisolone, hydroxychloroquine, methotrexate, and biologic agents.
The Department of Health has undertaken a range of actions to further support the safe administration of Zostavax in Australia, including:
- updates to the Australian Immunisation Handbook to capture further safety information supporting appropriate use of the vaccine
- working with the sponsor of Zostavax (Merck Sharp and Dahme) to include additional warning information in the vaccine Product Information.
The Department will continue to provide updates on this issue through the Therapeutic Goods Administration website and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.
Basic Trainees are encouraged to enrol in the new Working with Adolescents and Young Adults online course. Designed to support the Adolescent and Young Adult Health sections of the Basic Training Curricula, the course has been designed around key topics in adolescent health and is based on a set of learning objectives that relate to the core knowledge, skills and attitudes required to effectively work with young people in a healthcare context.
Find out more
To help reduce bacterial resistance to antibiotics, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has provided advice on changes to the recommended cautionary label to be applied by pharmacists when dispensing an antibiotic, effective January 2021:
The change: From 'until all used/taken' to 'Take for [the number of] days as advised by your prescriber'.
This change is the result of RACP feedback to the PSA in late 2020 and aligns with evidence that taking antibiotics for longer than necessary does not improve outcomes and increases the risk of acquiring resistant bacterial strains. A smaller quantity of antibiotic than the packs supplied to the patient may be sufficient to meet the required duration of treatment.
Key messages are:
- Prescribers should include the expected duration of therapy on the prescription and communicate the duration of therapy to the patient at the time of prescribing.
- It is generally not appropriate for prescribers to include a repeat for an antibiotic on the prescription by default.
- Pharmacists should confirm that the patient understands the prescribed duration of therapy. If the duration of therapy is not communicated on the prescription, and the patient does not know, the pharmacist should contact the prescriber to confirm the duration of therapy. From January 2021, pharmacists may contact prescribers if patients do not know the prescribed duration of antibiotic therapy and or if the duration of therapy is not included on the prescription.
- Pharmacists should not dispense a repeat prescription for an antibiotic without first clarifying clinical appropriateness.
- Prescribers and pharmacists should make patients aware that the advice to take the antibiotic for the prescribed duration of therapy may be inconsistent with the advice that is currently in Consumer Medicine Information for the antibiotic.
- Prescribers and pharmacists should advise patients to take any leftover antibiotics back to the pharmacy for disposal.
Ep66: Gendered Medicine - Heart Disease
We traditionally think of cardiovascular disease as a man’s problem, but it’s the leading cause of death for women as well as men in most of the industrialised world. Despite great advances in the management of heart disease in recent years, women are still not getting the same quality of care as men. Readmissions and mortality following an acute myocardial infarction are at least two times higher in women as they are in men.
Put simply, cardiovascular disease is better understood in men, the presentations and diagnosis occur more promptly, and therapies are more consistently delivered to male patients. In this episode we explore the subtle biases at every stage that nudge male and female patients down different health pathways and result in gendered health outcomes.
Guest: Associate Professor Sarah Zaman FRACP (Westmead Hospital, University of Sydney)
RACP Fellows can claim CPD credits through MyCPD for listening to this episode and reading the resources at the website. To be the first to hear about the latest episodes of Pomegranate Health, subscribe in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, any Android podcasting app or join our email alerts list.
The Clinical Excellence Commission, established in 2004, is one of the five key structural reforms outlined in the NSW Health Patient Safety and Clinical Quality Program and is an evolution of the Institute for Clinical Excellence. RACP is partnering with the CEC to provide this fantastic professional development opportunity to eligible members.
Using the Model for Improvement, this workplace-based 12-month Improvement Science Program
, starting with a two day face-to-face/virtual workshop (pending NSW Health COVID-19 Plan at the time) will provide an opportunity you to focus on developing your non-technical skills as well as your medical expertise.
Benefits of the program include:
- developing a broad understanding of quality and safety, areas which are becoming increasingly important in clinical care, clinical relationships and medical management
- learning and applying a contemporary approach to healthcare process improvement using driver diagrams
- developing skills which will be of value for future clinical leaders
- receiving the opportunity to publish projects or present your project at national and international conferences (as done by a number of past participants).
There are limited places available, so register your interest by Wednesday, 24 February to avoid disappointment.
From Monday, 1 February 2021 regulatory changes will come into effect bringing mandatory active ingredient listings on medicines, with some exceptions. The NPS MedicineWise active ingredient prescribing information hub contains a number of resources and useful links, including a fact sheet for prescribers outlining what you need to know and do to be ready for these changes, including ensuring your prescribing software is up to date ahead of 1 February.
Read other RACP eBulletins: