This edition of O&G Magazine takes homebirth as its theme, a controversial topic that involves only a small percentage of births in Australia and New Zealand. However, it is an issue that arouses passions on both sides of the debate. The articles are varied and I hope that reading them you gain an added insight and understanding of the issues.
This edition of O&G Magazine also marks the end of my time as Acting CEO. During the last three months, while Dr Peter White has been on long-service leave, the work of the College has continued at a rapid pace with membership, subspecialty and Diploma examinations, national Trainee selection, the launch of the new RANZCOG website, the establishment of new committees and working parties – namely the Workforce Committee, the Diagnostic Imaging Management Committee, the Fetal Surveillance Guideline Review Working Party and the Training Review Implementation Working Party – and the initial preparation for what will be a major undertaking for the College, accreditation by the Australian Medical Council (AMC) in 2013, being just a few of activities that have been undertaken.
In September, the Medical Council of New Zealand notified the College that it had extended the College accreditation to December 2013, to align with the AMC Accreditation period. No longer will the College have to undergo two accreditation processes, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the AMC and MCNZ to align the accreditation activities of the two bodies. At the meeting of the Board in September, consideration was given to the steps needed in order to best position the College for the requirements of accreditation, and work on the Board’s recommendations commenced at the November meetings of the relevant committees so as to ensure that the College is in a position to meet all of the accreditation standards.
In 2011, the Trainee-selection process in Australia was coordinated centrally as a national process. As the New Zealand training year starts earlier than it does in Australia, the New Zealand selection process necessarily operates separately and earlier than that in Australia. The basic selection process in both countries is, however, identical in terms of selection criteria, scoring, scoring guidelines and the three core components of online CV/application form, referee reports and interview.
It was only following confirmation of accepted positions that Regional Training Accreditation Committee (TAC) Chairs were notified of the allocated list for their state, with requests for preferences, liaison with local authorities, preference matching and allocation to regional Integrated Training Programs/hospitals subsequently undertaken at a local level. On both sides of the Tasman, RANZCOG Fellows were major contributors to the selection process via application assessment and serving on interview panels. Their input was essential, as was the advice, commitment and support received from the Chairs of the regional TACs.
In July, the Board established the Workforce Committee, which has a broad remit to consider issues that impact on the provision of a sustainable O and G workforce in both Australia and New Zealand now and in the years ahead. It will come as no surprise that this Committee has oversight of the RANZCOG Practice Profiles of Fellows and Diplomates along with the College Activity Report. I have been very pleased to see how well the Practice Profiles have been received; however, to be truly effective, we need a response rate of 100 per cent. I can recall only too vividly how difficult it was in my early years at the College to explain to various government departments that the College could not provide statistics on the number Fellows practising obstetrics in Australia and New Zealand. I also found it frustrating to know that surveys on obstetric issues approved by the CPD Committee were sent to all Fellows rather than solely those whose scope of practice included obstetrics. I encourage those of you who have yet to complete your profile, to go to my.ranzcog and complete your profile now, in order that the College can better advocate on your behalf.
‘In September, the Medical Council of New Zealand notified the College that it had extended the College accreditation to December 2013, to align with the AMC Accreditation period.’
Of particular interest to Provincial Fellows and other College members working in rural and remote Australia is advice from the Department of Health and Ageing that the Specialist Obstetrician Locum Scheme (SOLS) has been designated an ongoing program. This designation guarantees that SOLS will be funded into the future, although the level of funding is not specified. The Commonwealth has indicated that a review of the program, along with other Commonwealth-funded rural locum programs (GP anaesthetists and Rural GP locum program), will be undertaken during this financial year. SOLS is an important workforce support program that provides locums for specialist and GP obstetricians in rural and remote locations. Unfortunately, each year some requests for locum assistance go unfilled, so if you are interested in supporting your rural colleagues by doing a week or more of locum work please contact the SOLS Secretariat: email@example.com . Perhaps you are a recently qualified FRANZCOG or DRANZCOG/DRANZCOG Advanced and have contemplated rural or regional practice, SOLS offers an ideal opportunity to try rural practice before making the move.
By the time you read this edition of O&G Magazine, the RANZCOG 2011 Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) will have been held in Melbourne. I’m sure that those of you who attended will have enjoyed an interesting and varied scientific program and social activities. The Organising Committee, chaired by Prof Michael Permezel, has worked closely with Ms Kylie Grose, the ASM coordinator, to ensure the success of the meeting. Those of you who were unable to join your colleagues in Melbourne should make note that the next ASM will be held from 9–12 September 2012, in Canberra.
Events such as an ASM provide a valuable opportunity for Fellows, Trainees and Diplomates to come together and the collegiality enjoyed at these events provides great support to those who
often work in professional isolation. They also provide a valuable opportunity for the membership to meet members of the College House staff, who work tirelessly to ensure the success of each event.
The College owes an enormous debt to the pro bono contribution of Fellows and Diplomates in supporting the College’s training and educational activities. Not to mention the contributions made to Council; committees, both national and regional; RANZCOG self-funded projects such as the Fetal Surveillance Education Program and the Nuchal Translucency, Ultrasound Education and Monitoring Program; and the development of externally funded programs and projects, which include SOLS, the General Practitioner Procedural Training Support Program, Specialist Training Program and Rural Health Continuing Education projects. Without these pro bono contributions the College would not be able to undertake half of what it does.
t is interesting to reflect that my first official duty as Acting CEO was to attend a morning tea for the Friends of the College held in the Frank Forster Library at College House (see p76 for a report). This was a wonderful opportunity for senior Fellows and their partners to tour the College and for them to meet the President and newly appointed curator of the College Collection, Prof Caroline de Costa. The conversations were very engaging, with fascinating tales of O and G practice from earlier days – punishing schedules and exhausting on-call commitments – no doubt practices that would be frowned upon in the safety and quality culture of today.
Finally, I would like to thank the President, Board, Councillors and, particularly, College staff for the wonderful support they have given me during my tenure as Acting CEO. May I also join with the President in extending my best wishes and season’s greetings to all RANZCOG members, staff and those associated with the College.