The President's Message – 1 February 2022
For this, my first message of the year, I would like to wish you a happy and prosperous 2022 and thank you for your dedication to your work during the past year, because of this pandemic.
I recognise the stress the omicron virus variant continues to put on our hospitals, our practices and our patients. The entire medical community has been impacted and the role that physicians have played so far has been incredible.
But, be aware of burnout and your mental health in the weeks and months ahead. Please keep an eye out for your colleagues and trainees. These can be stressful times and resilience may be low. Remember, our RACP Support Program is available to you whenever you need it. It’s a free hotline which is open 24/7 and is completely confidential. It may help you.
Now, I would like to congratulate our members who were recognised in the 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand New Year Honours and the Australia Day Honours lists. We had 29 members who were awarded for their contribution to medicine and their community this year. To see so many honoured is a reminder of the great work that is being done by so many. The full list of Honour recipients can be found later in this bulletin.
I would also like to congratulate Dr Daniel Nour for receiving the 2022 Young Australian of the Year award – how special. Daniel founded Street Side Medics in 2020 at the time when he was undergoing physician training at Royal North Shore Hospital – amazing! Street Side Medics is a not-for-profit, mobile medical service for people experiencing homelessness. With over 145 volunteers, this amazing service has made an incredible difference to one of our more vulnerable populations. Well done Daniel.
I would like to remind you that nominations are now open for three positions on the RACP Board. Those are the RACP President-elect, the Aotearoa New Zealand RACP President-elect, who becomes a Board Director in 2024, and a Trainee Director position. There are also numerous positions open on our important College Bodies.
Being a director on the RACP Board is rewarding. Board Directors provide important leadership in the College, overseeing governance, performance, compliance, risk, accountability to members, as well as key areas of College activity such as education and advocacy. Information about how to nominate, including position descriptions can be found on the RACP webpage. I encourage you to be involved in this important process and help shape our College’s future.
Following a review of our Constitution in 2020, and our consultation with you, our members in 2021, the Board has considered your feedback and will progress certain proposals for changes to the Constitution at the 2022 Annual General Meeting in May.
The Constitution is the overarching governing document of the College and this is an opportunity to consider and vote on structural change to better reflect your needs – it's an evolving, living organisation. We are currently developing the objects, so keep an eye out for more information in the coming months.
Finally, the College will shortly release the Strategic Plan for 2022-2026. The strategy provides the vision and sets the direction of the College for the future. Your input is vital. It sets out strategic focus areas and underlying priorities to achieve our long-term goals, a very important objective of this College.
Professor John Wilson AM
Congratulations to the 29 RACP members recognised in the 2022 Australia Day and Aotearoa New Zealand New Year Honours lists. We also congratulate our trainee Dr Daniel Nour who was awarded the 2022 Young Australian of the Year.
These awards highlight the outstanding work RACP members do and the importance of that work in local, national and international communities.
Whether you're joining us in person or virtually, RACP Congress 2022 has some particularly pertinent shared sessions. Hear from expert voices addressing the current situation with COVID-19, as well as leading voices discussing the many other issues impacting the future of healthcare. Join the conversation as we explore ways of driving positive systemic change and improvement.
Join us for COVID-19 sessions:
- The impact of the pandemic on the health of Australians
- COVID-19 – A global game changer
- Tired of COVID? Aren’t we all. Navigating ethical tensions during a pandemic.
Beyond the pandemic, make sure you don’t miss these sessions:
- Improving workforce and support for rural and remote communities
- Health promotion helping to rebuild a healthy population
- Gender equity in medicine.
See all the session topics including clinical updates and research on the Congress website. Don’t forget, you can claim CPD credits for attendance at RACP Congress, for both in-person and virtual attendance.
Last chance to submit your abstracts
Time is running out to submit your abstracts for consideration at RACP Congress 2022. Take this opportunity to engage with other specialists and share your research. With the virtual ticket exposing your work to a broad audience, RACP Congress provides a rare opportunity to raise the profile of your work.
Find out more
The Divisional Examination Readiness online learning resource has been designed to help Basic Trainees understand what to expect and how to prepare for the Divisional Written and Clinical Examinations. It provides information, resources and study tools, as well as Paediatrics and Adult Medicine demonstration videos of short and long cases.
Professor John Wilson is looking forward to hosting the College’s virtual Child Health Summit on Friday, 18 February from 10am to 11.30 am AEDT.
During the Summit, the Kids' COVID Catch Up Campaign will be launched. The campaign is an advocacy initiative of the Paediatrics & Child Health Division. The campaign aims to elevate the health and wellbeing of children and young people as we all recover from the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Summit will feature an expert panel, including:
- Anne Hollonds, National Children's Commissioner
- Dr Elkie Hull, Advanced Trainee in Paediatrics and a proud Gamilaraay woman
- Mr Chris O’Connell, 16-year-old, Melbourne high-school student and UNICEF Young Ambassador
- Professor Sharon Goldfeld, Director, Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children’s Hospital and Population Health Theme Director at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
- Professor Frank Oberklaid AM, Co-Chair on the National Children’s Mental Health Strategy
- Adjunct Professor Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service.
Together, the speakers will discuss the impacts of the pandemic on our youngest generations, who continue to face an uncertain future. Children and young people have missed out on school, socialising, sports and creative activities, which are essential to their health and development. The impacts have not been felt equally, with the pandemic amplifying existing inequalities.
The summit will be opened by Dr Katie Allen MP and closed by Shadow Assistant Minster for Health Ged Kearney MP.
Don't miss what is sure to be an informative, insightful and pertinent discussion.
RACP President-elect, Dr Jacqueline Small will host a member-only advocacy workshop on the Kids COVID Catch Up Campaign the evening prior to the Summit (Thursday, 17 February from 6pm to 7pm AEDT). The workshop will focus on how members can get involved in this important advocacy initiative.
The health and safety of our members and staff are key priorities for the College. We currently require all visitors to the RACP to be vaccinated (or have a medical exemption) to attend any office location, including for committee meetings and events. This includes members, staff and guests.
RACP members are defined as healthcare workers in each local jurisdiction and are required to be fully vaccinated to attend work. We are extending this requirement to RACP events and meetings to ensure the health and safety of all attendees.
If you are attending a College office or event, you must follow all guidelines, controls and rules implemented by the College, including signing in via QR code (where provided) and providing proof of vaccination. We also encourage you to wear a face mask where you cannot physically distance, or where required by your jurisdiction.
We will continue to review requirements and will notify you of any changes accordingly.
The Australian medical workforce has a profound impact on the quality, accessibility, effectiveness and sustainability of the health system. However, inequality of access to health services remains a key issue for Australian communities. To achieve maximum benefit to the community, the medical workforce must be geographically well distributed and have the appropriate mix of medical specialties in each location.
Currently, this optimal distribution and service mix is not consistently achieved across Australia, resulting in service gaps and inefficiencies, and potentially impacting on the quality of patient care and the working life of Australia’s doctors.
The National Medical Workforce Strategy 2021 – 2031 seeks to address these issues through better planning for the future medical workforce. It articulates how the organisations that fund, educate, train, employ, regulate and support doctors will collaborate to produce a high-quality workforce in the locations and specialties needed.
The Strategy documents the main concerns about Australia’s medical workforce, namely geographic
maldistribution and the imbalance between specialist disciplines; sub-specialisation and generalism; junior doctors’ work and wellbeing; the need for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors; and the need to move away from reliance on locums and international medical graduates despite our increased domestic graduate numbers. The factors that drive these issues are analysed, alongside consideration of how demographic and epidemiological changes require a medical workforce that is skilled in caring for people with multiple chronic diseases, as well as acute illness. Practical actions are recommended to address these issues.
National Medical Workforce Strategy
The College continues to advocate for appropriately designed and funded permanent telehealth specialist MBS items on behalf its members and patients. Our advocacy work focuses on securing equitable access for priority populations and those in regional and remote areas.
While the RACP welcomed the introduction of the permanent items in late 2021, we have been raising member concerns in relation to some aspects of the arrangements in our submissions to and meetings with the Department of Health and our December 2021 media release. The main concerns included the removal of specialist telehealth phone items and imposing the 30-20 auditing rule.
Our strong advocacy has recently resulted in two wins:
- the Government has reinstated 33 initial and complex specialist telephone consultation items and 40 specialist inpatient telehealth items until 30 June 2022. A RACP media release welcomed this decision.
- the introduction of the 30-20 auditing rule is being delayed and reviewed for impact on access to specialist care. A January 2022 media release reiterated our advocacy against this threshold.
As part of our continued advocacy on telehealth, we are planning a campaign to highlight the implications of removing specialist telehealth phone items post-June 2022. Central to this campaign will be case studies to demonstrate the unintended negative consequences associated with such removals, especially for underserviced and priority populations and those in regional and remote areas. We are looking for such case studies from members.
We would like to hear from you if you have a compelling case study you think needs highlighting; we would appreciate your feedback by Monday, 14 February 2022 by email.
The Department also prepared guidance material for practitioners, billing agents and other parties involved in Medicare billing to understand when hospital treatment 75 per cent, 85 per cent and 100 per cent benefits apply to services claimed under MBS.
Date published: 17 January 2022
The RACP welcomes the reinstatement of telephone MBS items for specialist telehealth for the next six months, especially under the surging pandemic conditions. The RACP has strongly advocated for the retainment of MBS items for phone consultations. Patients will now be able to safely communicate with their specialists without being exposed to potential infection or forgoing specialist care altogether.
Telephone items are key to ensuring access to specialist care for many Australians during and beyond the pandemic. The College has consistently argued that phone consultations are preferred by many patients or necessitated by patient-specific circumstances such as old age, fragility, intellectual disabilities, deficit in technology skills, low bandwidth, geographical barriers, and inability to access in-person care.
We are especially pleased that telephone items will be available for initial as well as complex consultations, and that telehealth rebates are now available for inpatients to receive a consultation with their specialist. Complex consultations via telephone are vital for specialist physicians who often see patients when they have multiple conditions that requires more complex care.
We will continue to advocate for the retainment of these items beyond mid-2022 in the interest of our patients and members.
For more information on the changes, see Temporary items to 30 June 2022
The Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) published the Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2022–23 (the Framework) and the accompanying Consultation Report. These documents are available on the IHPA website.
The RACP submission to the consultation process on the Framework addressed the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of hospital services future funding models, which reflect the IHPA’s shift from paying for volume of services to paying for value and patient outcomes. It also addressed avoidable and preventable hospitalisations and adjustments to the national efficient price.
IHPA has now responded to our submission acknowledging key points of feedback and committing to work with the College and other stakeholders on progressing these areas of reform. We encourage you to read the response to the submission.
The Department of Health contacted the College to provide an update on resources and support for managing COVID-positive patients in the community. The Department of Health also provided a one page fact sheet that brings together information for doctors and patients: Managing COVID-19 at home – Resources for patients and healthcare professionals.
A Factsheet on Real Time Prescription Monitoring in Australia is now available.
The misuse of controlled medicines is a growing concern in Australia. Prescription opioids, often combined with benzodiazepines, contribute to more deaths than illicit drugs in Australia.
RTPM aims to provide information to doctors (prescribers) and pharmacists (dispensers) about a patient’s history and use of controlled medicines when they are considering prescribing or dispensing these medicines. RTPM can reduce the growing harms linked with certain prescription medications, particularly prescription opioids if it is effectively implemented.
This factsheet provides information on how RTPM can reduce harm and how to ensure its success. It can be used to undertake further advocacy on the effective implementation of RTPM across Australian jurisdictions.
For more information about the College’s position on RTPM, please search ‘RTPM’ on the RACP website.
Join AChSHM Fellows and trainees at the Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine (AChSHM) Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) on Saturday, 19 March. Themed 'Towards new horizons' this one-day virtual event is open to those who have an interest in sexual health medicine.
- HIV in women
- complex cases
- STI testing and treatment paradigms
- online sexual health and new technology.
Find out more
The Advanced Trainees' Meeting returns for another year
Advanced Trainees, make sure you don’t miss out on the Advanced Trainees' Meeting 2022. Held the previous day on Friday, 18 March, this day is incredibly popular and will help you immeasurably.
The program features topics on:
- sexual assault
- HIV and conception planning
- sexual health counselling
- complex syphilis
- lab methods
- learning resources for sexual health
- mock exit exam.
The RACP Te Rā o Ngā Tauira Mahi o Aotearoa Niu Tīrani | Aotearoa New Zealand Trainees' Day 2022 will be held on Saturday, 2 April at the Millennium Hotel in Rotorua. Developed by trainees for trainees, content ranges from big picture issues to professional skills-building, honest story-telling and the annual RACP Trainees' Dinner. The Aotearoa New Zealand Trainees' Day is the perfect opportunity to connect with the wider trainee community, take time out to think strategically about your career, and hear practical wisdom from experienced professionals.
The Supervisor Professional Development Program (SPDP) is a high-quality training program for final year advanced trainees and Fellows who supervise trainees in RACP-accredited positions. The Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) and Australian Medical Council (AMC) accreditation standards state that Supervisors are required to be trained. The College Education Committee (CEC) supports the SPDP as the College’s supervisor training program.
To be a RACP Approved Supervisor:
- All Directors of Physician / Paediatrics Education (DPEs), Advanced Training Supervisors (ATS) and Education Supervisors (ES) are required to complete SPDP 3 by end of 2022.
- All DPEs, ATS and ES are required to complete (or be exempt from) SPDP 1 and 2 by end of 2022 or in line with their site accreditation cycle (whichever occurs later).
- Rotational Supervisors (RS) are only required to complete SPDP 3 (non-member RS are encouraged to complete SPDP 3 but there is no requirement).
- After completing one SPDP workshop and prior to achieving Approved status, supervisors will be referred to as Provisionally Approved.
Register now to attend a face-to-face or virtual workshop or the online course.
To maintain the integrity of SPDP, all workshops and online courses are facilitated by a RACP Fellow. If you are interested in becoming a SPDP facilitator, please register for one of our upcoming virtual facilitation workshops (via Zoom) or complete our online facilitation course. You can complete the online facilitation course at your own pace, in your own time.
The virtual facilitation workshop runs for approximately six hours and is held periodically throughout the year. Register for the next available session, which will be held on Tuesday, 1 March 2022. MyCPD credits are available for both formats.
If you have any questions about the information above or would like to book in to a virtual facilitator training session, please contact the Supervisor Learning Support Team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The RACP invites you to discover our range of educational videos, online courses, and curated collections which have been designed to support you with your lifelong learning and professional development. Watch this short showreel for a preview of what you'll find on RACP Online Learning.
Our educational videos, online courses and curated collections cover a range of clinical and professional topics.
Developed by experts and RACP Fellows, our resources are adaptable, mobile-friendly, and feature a mix of in-depth content, video scenarios, reflection and discussion activities and recommended supporting materials. They are also often self-paced and designed to fit around your workload.
Don't forget to claim CPD credits for time spent on online learning. Continue your learning on RACP Online Learning.
Applications close Monday, 14 February 2022
The practice analytics research program seeks to understand how hospitals can provide clinical teams and individual clinicians actionable data that relates to the quality of clinical practice. This project is a collaboration between a number of partners across Australia including the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Cabrini Healthcare (VIC), Sydney Adventist Healthcare (NSW), St John of God hospital (WA), Ramsay Hospital Research Foundation and Epworth Healthcare (VIC).
The project is part of the Digital Health Centre for Cooperative Research. All project partners are interested in exploring research and development projects related to the use of electronic health data for reflective practice and enhancing professional practice. Some clinical partners have already begun exploring how data is collected within their organisations and how it can be presented to their clinical workforce.
The research program is delivered via a suite of applied research projects. There are currently scholarships available to undertake a PhD for two of these exciting projects:
- Ethical and Legal Considerations of Practice Analytics: The project aims to understand the ethical and policy implications for organisations and individual clinicians when using electronic health data for reflective practice.
- Surgical Learning Loops: The project aims to understand how data from emerging technologies such as surgical robots can support practice reflection and professional learning.
Find out more and submit your application
Ep77: Deciding With Children
This episode is shared from the Essential Ethics podcast produced at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne. It is presented by paediatric respiratory physician, John Massie and clinical ethicist, Lynn Gillam who are respectively the Clinical Lead and Academic Director of the Children's Bioethics Centre.
In a series titled 'Deciding with Children' they raise the following questions; when can a child be considered to have autonomy to make healthcare decisions for themselves? What intrinsic rights does a young patient have up to this age of so-called Gillick competence? How should responsibility for difficult decisions be shared between the patients, the parents and clinicians? and is it possible to minimise the moral injury when the wishes of the patient need to be over-ruled? Access the full series of the Essential Ethics podcasts on the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne website.
- Professor Lynn Gillam (Academic Director, Children’s Bioethics Centre, University of Melbourne)
- Professor John Massie FRACP (Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, University of Melbourne)
- Associate Professor Clare Delany (Children’s Bioethics Centre, University of Melbourne)
- Associate Professor Daryl Efron (Murdoch Children's Research Institute, University of Melbourne)
Do you want to be among the first to find out about more Pomegranate Health podcasts? Subscribe to email alerts or search for ‘Pomegranate Health’ in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, or any podcasting app. RACP Fellows can claim CPD credits for listening and learning via MyCPD. For a transcript and further references please visit our webpage.
The January 2022 issue of the Internal Medicine Journal is now live on the RACP website (log in using your RACP login credentials). You can now access full journal issues as PDFs using the link to the digital editions on this page. You can also access articles tweeted on IMJ's Twitter account for free for a limited time. This month’s Editor's Choice is an original article titled 'Effect of donor age on adult unrelated donor hematopoietic cell transplant outcome: the Australian experience'.
- Thyroid eye disease
- Mobile applications for chronic physical conditions
- Echocardiography update
- Chemotherapy for metastatic pancreatic cancer
- Varicella zoster virus and central nervous system infection
- Cough syncope: fatal distraction?
The January 2022 edition of the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health is now live on the Wiley Online Library website.
- What Bluey can teach us about parenting and grandparenting
- Paediatric genomic testing: Navigating genomic reports for the general paediatrician
- Ethics and governance for a multi‐site study in Australia: Navigating the snakes and ladders
- Towards a broader concept of wellbeing in evaluating paediatric quality of life
- Early versus delayed introduction of human milk fortification in enterally fed preterm infants: A systematic review and meta‐analysis
- COVID‐19 in children: I. Epidemiology, prevention and indirect impacts
- COVID‐19 in children. II: Pathogenesis, disease spectrum and management.
Read other RACP eBulletins: