The President's Message – 10 July 2020

Hi, I’m John Wilson, President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. I’m sure many of you have been keeping an eye on the unfolding COVID situation, or second wave as some are calling it, in Victoria. As a Respiratory Physician working in Melbourne, it has certainly been a very challenging and concerning time. It is a reminder that COVID is still here with us, and that we can’t let our guard down in either Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand.

We’ve been in touch with the Federal Health Departments to lend our support to measures for those arriving from overseas. We must adhere to the quarantine and testing of international arrivals to protect the work we’ve achieved so far. Indeed, all hot spots either in  Australia or New Zealand, need our immediate and undivided attention to prevent further spread.

But it’s not all bad news. While cases are going up in Victoria, only a small percentage of infected patients are requiring hospital care, so far only five per cent. This is very different to what we saw months ago in the early days before we had adequate PPE. Furthermore, remember that healthcare workers are still at higher risk of COVID infection.

It shows we’re better equipped to prevent those in vulnerable groups from contracting the virus. But we cannot let our guard down yet. The mortality rate in new cases is also extremely low. Patients who do need care are being well managed by you. This is a testament to you, your colleagues and our health systems. We are doing great work in both countries and are well ahead of many other nations in beating the virus. But we haven’t completely prevented community transmission yet.

As community leaders, I call on you to promote safe social distancing, isolation and testing practices that are appropriate and keep those at the highest possible standard. As medical leaders, it’s important that we lead by example in our personal and professional lives.

So, continue providing great care to our communities. Continue practicing your own hygiene and social distancing policies. And continue to advocate for appropriate PPE, testing facilities and optimal care for the aged and those at risk.

I thank you once again.

Professor John Wilson AM
RACP President

Australian Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has accepted an invitation to a virtual College Town Hall Meeting on the subject of Telehealth. The event will be on Monday, 27 July, with the Minister speaking from 6pm (AEST) onwards. In coming weeks we will advise further details, including how members can join.

Continuing Professional Development

2019 records due

You have until midnight (AWST) Friday, 31 July 2020 to submit your 2019 CPD record. The CPD team have been working hard to support you. If you need any help or assistance with your 2019 CPD record please contact us on 1300 697 227 or

2020 requirements: Australia

The Medical Board of Australia (MBA) won’t take action if you can’t meet the CPD registration standard when you renew your medical registration this year and neither will the College. The MBA encourages you to continue to do CPD relevant to your scope of practice.

2020 requirements: Aotearoa New Zealand

The Medical Council of New Zealand will exempt all general and vocationally-registered doctors from recertification programme requirements until 28 February 2021. Doctors returning to practice from 26 March 2020 don't need to enrol in the Inpractice or College programme until 28 February 2021.

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Online Congress Series – Orations

Today, we recognise clinical excellence and exceptional physicians and paediatricians with the launch of our orations, part of The RACP Online Congress Series. You’re invited to watch and listen to recognised thought leaders, as they discuss key issues, share expert perspectives and insights on current and future challenges in healthcare, through our on-demand Online Congress Series platform.

These inspirational keynote orations, are available now and are free to access for members as part of this years' program.

Orations include:

  • Opening keynote oration: Balancing science with humanity: how kindness restores the whole in medicine by Professor Catherine Crock
  • Redfern Oration: Planetary health: protecting and promoting health in the anthropocene epoch by Professor Tony Capon
  • Cottrell Memorial Oration: Towards universal healthcare by Professor Des Gorman
  • George Burniston Oration: To infinity and beyond...a state-wide model of service delivery for children living with disability by Associate Professor Adam Scheinberg.

Login to the Online Congress Series

Live webinar invitation – Silicosis: a multidisciplinary update on the impacts, risks and recent findings

Australia has been experiencing a worrying increase in cases of accelerated silicosis, a preventable occupational lung disease which has mostly affected young workers in the manufacture and installation of artificial stone bench tops. You're invited to a one-hour, interactive webinar to be held on Monday, 20 July from 4pm AEST or 6pm NZST to have your questions answered by an expert panel of renowned speakers.

Register now

#RaiseTheAge campaign

At the end of June, RACP joined the national Raise the Age campaign. Since 2017 RACP has been advocating for the age of criminal responsibility in Australia to be raised to 14 years of age.

About the campaign

Right now, in every Australian state and territory, children as young as 10 years old can be arrested by police, brought before a court and placed in youth detention centres. These laws impact disproportionately on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Criminalising children this young is contrary to the medical science on child development, causes harm, and is out of step with global developments.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has called for countries to set a minimum age of criminal responsibility of 14 years old or higher and recommends that children under 16 should not be deprived of liberty. The campaign is calling for all state and territory governments, as well as the Commonwealth government, to change the laws that allow 10-year-old children to be imprisoned.

Campaign members

The College is part of the campaign’s coalition of legal (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community owned) services, medical and social justice organisations who make up the steering group, including the Human Rights Law Centre, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, the Law Council of Australia, Change the Record, Amnesty International Australia, Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, the Australian Medical Association, the Public Health Association of Australia. 

Take action

The Council of Attorneys-General is scheduled to meet and discuss the age of criminal responsibility on Monday, 27 July 2020. To show support for raising the age, we are asking members to please sign the petition and share the petition with your networks.

Sign the petition

Research project: How prepared were Australian hospital staff for the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Principal Investigators Professor Gerben Keijzers and Ms Amanda Murray are seeking the views of Australian hospital healthcare staff in Emergency and Infectious Disease Departments. They are seeking feedback on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted workload, departments, and personal and organisational issues that they faced, as well as how prepared and informed they felt to deal with the pandemic. If you work in Emergency or Infectious Disease Departments, please complete the survey.

A similar survey is being conducted with Australian GPs dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and European colleagues are conducting comparative surveys with both GPs and hospital healthcare workers in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. The findings of this survey will be disseminated to the hospital healthcare staff who opt in to receive them, via publication in a peer-reviewed journal, and as a report to key medical organisations such as the College, the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia and the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases. This study has been approved by the Bond University Human Research Ethics Committee - Ethics Application Number AS200522. Please contact Amanda Murray with any questions.

Webinar for trainees: How is COVID-19 changing the anatomical pathology environment?

The current and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created many disruptions and is changing current practices of businesses and organisations all around the world. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, 14 July from 3pm to 4pm (AEST). Panelists from around Australia will facilitate an engaging discussion to dive deep and explore how COVID-19 is affecting anatomical pathology laboratories and the possible changes to business practice and operation that will result from this in the post COVID-19 world.

Register now

New hotline for health professionals caring for people with disabilities during COVID-19

The Australian Government Department of Health has set up a telephone advisory service providing specialised clinical advice for health professionals involved in the care of people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some people with disability may become very anxious in these situations and require reasonable adjustments to their healthcare to ensure they receive either COVID-19 testing or treatment with minimum distress.

Health professionals can call the service on 1800 131 330 between 7am – 11pm (AEST) seven days a week. Thank you to the Fellows who are involved in this service.

Updated selection poster and trainee feedback

Last year we published new resources for selection of trainees into local training programs ahead of selection and recruitment rounds. Thank you to everyone who used the resources and has provided feedback.

The Local Selection into Training: At a Glance poster has been updated based on feedback from a survey on trainees' selection experiences in 2019. The poster provides an overview of recruitment processes and good practices. Please review this if you are involved in recruitment and selection rounds in 2020. We will continue to update our other resources to support selection and recommend all members of selection panels review these materials before recruiting in 2020.

Survey on trainee selection experiences

The trainee survey was run in November 2019 and asked trainees about their selection experiences. Over 500 trainees provided feedback and the results are now available. The majority of experiences were positive, which was excellent to hear. However, some trainees shared experiences that concerned us and we’re taking steps to improve selection experiences so they are fair and free of discriminatory practices.

As part of our report we have made a number of recommendations to selection panels including:

  • making the application process easier and more transparent
  • reviewing the appropriateness of pre-interviews and if they are available, ensuring they are widely promoted
  • building representative panels.

We will also be reinforcing our previous communications to selection panels regarding appropriate questions.

Growing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical specialists report by The Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is working with specialist medical colleges including RACP to devise ways of increasing recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors into specialities.

In collaboration with AIDA, we have developed and agreed to implement 15 standards aimed at improving the recruitment and retention of Indigenous medical specialists. Our self-assessment against these standards can be found in AIDA’s biannual Growing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical specialists report.

AIDA is confident that implementing these standards will provide culturally-safe care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and foster a more culturally-safe work and learning environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors.

Find out more

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RACP Foundation update

Fellowship Medals

Nominations are now open for prestigious College Awards, which acknowledge outstanding contributions and achievements made by our Fellows and trainees. If you know a colleague or mentor who deserves to be recognised, now is the time to nominate. Nominations are due by Monday, 14 September 2020.

Find out more about:

Full details are available on the RACP Foundation webpage, or email us for enquiries.

Lessons from COVID-19: Physician wellbeing during a crisis

Health practitioners suffer from high levels of depression and burnout even during regular times. So how can we look after our own wellbeing during a crisis?

In this video, Dr Sarah Dalton FRACP, Dr Lynne McKinlay FRACP and Dr Chris Vagias (Basic Trainee) have a conversation about taking care of ourselves during a crisis and fostering a culture and attitude of putting on our own oxygen masks.

The Resourceful Physician

Have you recently come across an educational resource, tool, course or reading that you would love to share with your colleagues? We invite you to do so through our new curated collection, The Resourceful Physician. Here you can also browse member submissions, or suggest a topic for a resource you want developed.

Electronic prescribing explained

Under the Australian Government’s National Health Plan for COVID-19, the Department of Health has accelerated the delivery of electronic prescriptions as an alternative to paper-based prescriptions. Discover more about what Electronic Prescribing is and how it works in practice with the below video.

Pomegranate Podcast: Essential Ethics in Paediatrics

The ethical questions that come up in paediatrics can appear overwhelming to begin with. When can a child be said to have cognitive capacity and bodily autonomy? For those who don’t, where does the guardianship of the parent give way to that of the medical professionals? When might treating one child have implications for the resources available to others? And what about not treating or vaccinating a child, if that’s what the parents want?

All of these issues are tackled in the Essential Ethics podcast, produced within the Children's Bioethics Centre in Melbourne. The Centre was established at Royal Children’s Hospital to promote the rights of young patients and to support families and clinicians facing some vexing ethical questions. The Essential Ethics podcast takes a case-based approach to demonstrate how dilemmas in clinical ethics can be worked through in a systematic way. A couple of these are presented here as part of the RACP Online Congress Series.

In the first story discussed, a child with autism spectrum disorder is suspected of having COVID-19, but the mother refuses testing as it will distress him for little gain. The second, real life case, is that of a 16-month-old boy born with a developmental abnormality of the lower leg. In the most severe cases the recommended clinical management involves amputation, but this boy’s deformity can be corrected through a number of involved surgeries. Orthopaedic surgeon Chris Harris describes the confronting course he had to take. He is interviewed by paediatric respiratory physician John Massie and clinical ethicist Lynn Gillam. They are respectively the Clinical Lead and Academic Director of the Children's Bioethics Centre, and both have Professorial appointments at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Lynn Gillam (Academic Director, Children’s Bioethics Centre, University of Melbourne), Professor John Massie FRACP (Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, University of Melbourne) and Dr Chris Harris FRACS (Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne).

Listen now

Start the new financial year by saving

The last six months were tough for many businesses and professionals. This financial year take a look at how your RACP membership can help you save with complimentary access to a range of exclusive discounts and specially negotiated offers.

For new equipment, you have access to commercial pricing on a range of products including bar fridges, coffee machines, office equipment and laptops. There is also a range of discounted e-gift cards for a range of retail brands including Woolworths, Coles, Supercheap Auto, AMART and Myer.

Support your business or professional needs with access to a dedicated insurance broker team, discounted rates on MYOB, free international money transfers at OFX and premium financial services including financial planners and credit or charge card welcome bonuses.

Find more about all your benefits at your Member Advantage benefits website.

*Terms and conditions apply.

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