2024 | Volume 25 | Issue 1


Vice president perspective

I hope you had the chance to rest and prepare for the new year, which seems to be flying by.

At the end of 2023 my message was entirely devoted to the proposed new governance structure. I am making this front and centre again, as this long overdue fundamental change to the governance structures of RACS is necessary, indeed critical.  

To say it has been a tumultuous year would be an understatement and the next 12 months will be no less challenging as we confirm the important role of RACS in delivering surgical education and assessment. Obtaining accreditation by the Australian Medical Council (AMC) is our current focus, so that, along with our specialist societies, we can continue guiding our surgical Trainees to obtain the status that ranks them among the best surgeons in the world.  But there are a range of activities that engage Fellows with a variety of different interests and while the College has tried to be all things for everyone, the reality is that in this challenging environment we have to cut our cloth for efficient delivery and sustainability of the important functions we hold dear and education is core business.

RACS is on a firm footing and sustainable pathway, but for this vital work to continue and to build the resilience in the system that will safeguard our future for the ongoing support of Trainees and Fellows, the constitution must be rewritten. I refer you to my last communication in Surgical News, which outlines the changes suggested. We will soon have a report from an independent reviewer, and I would be surprised if a problem with the governance structure is not identified—as for mine—it is at the heart of the difficulties that RACS has experienced. Once the new constitution is ratified at Council in February, we will be asking the Fellowship to vote for the change to a smaller, leaner and agile skills-based board, importantly with the essential financial, audit, risk and governance oversight that our large organisation requires.

We plan to notify members with a notice of intention to propose the alteration to the Constitution in early March 2024, with a notice to Fellows advising of the ballot in April 2024. This timeline would see the ballot close on 1 May 2024 with the result ratified at the AGM on 9 May 2024.

You are probably hearing a lot about Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and I’ll take this opportunity to remind everyone that the year ending 2023 needs to be finalised if you’ve not already done so. We are excited to share that we have expanded the RACS CPD Home program to include PGY3+ and surgically affiliated practitioners in Australia. The program has received positive feedback and provides a diverse range of CPD activities and services tailored to the professional growth of medical practitioners. This initiative is supported by a dedicated CPD team.

The RACS CPD program, crafted by surgeons for surgeons, not only meets but often exceeds the stringent requirements of the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) and the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ).

To further support professional growth, we have introduced a new CPD app. This user-friendly tool empowers our Fellows to record and track their CPD activities, ensuring seamless documentation and compliance with industry standards.

We are committed to fostering a community of dynamic and accomplished professionals by providing effective professional development.

RACS Global Health developed a program in the Indo-Pacific for volunteer surgical visits  collaboratively designed with ministries of health last year. The team is planning the first deployments to Vanuatu, Timor Leste, Cook Islands, and Tuvalu in 2024. Additionally, clinical training teams will be deployed to Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and Fiji throughout the year to train local clinicians in various clinical practices. We continue our support for nurses in the Pacific, facilitating postgraduate training at the Australian School of Nursing.

The Foundation for Surgery recently concluded its end-of-year campaign, raising funds to support RACS Global Health projects in the Indo-Pacific region. We are grateful for the generous donations received, which will significantly contribute to providing quality and essential surgical care in the implemented projects.

The 2024 Pledge-a-Procedure initiative by the Foundation for Surgery will kick off in Aotearoa New Zealand from mid-February to the end of March and in Australia from May until the end of June. This year's focus is on raising funds for much-needed pediatric surgical services provided by RACS Global Health in the Indo-Pacific region. Please consider donating to this vital cause.

Additionally, we are pleased to announce a new donation option for Younger Fellows. Donors are welcome to contribute to the ongoing support of the Younger Fellows Forum.

Lastly, we would like to express our gratitude for the recent bequests received from Joyce Ethel Robertson and Richard Hamilton Gardner. Mrs. Robertson's bequest of $2 million will support RACS scholarships and grants, supplementing the corpus of several scholarships and grants offered through the program. Dr. Gardner's bequest of $278,000 will specifically support eye procedures in Timor Leste through the RACS Global Health East Timor Eye Program. If you are considering making the Foundation for Surgery a beneficiary in your Will, please reach out to the Foundation for Surgery team for more information.

Please note these key dates:

March 2024: Notify of intention to alter the Constitution
April 2024: Ballot to change the Constitution.
1 May 2024: Ballot closes
9 May 2024: If successful ratify at the AGM

I look forward to sharing more updates with you as the year progresses.

Professor Owen Ung
Vice President
Chair Governance Committee
Chair International Engagement