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Council précis, November 2017

Précis from the Council meeting which took place on 24 and 25 November 2017


Members of Council and the Board of Trustees visited Union Street, the College’s new home from December 2019. They then took part in a workshop to discuss and prioritise options for development of Union Street to best support the College’s work, led by the architects and informed by the results of the recent member survey.

Presentations on regional issues

At each Council meeting, representatives of two regions present on projects, activities and issues in their constituency for discussion and consideration by Council.

  • Phil Owen and Vanessa Mackay, Fellows’ and Members’ representatives for Scotland respectively, presented on: issues raised by their constituents (chiefly workforce issues such as rota gaps both at middle grade and among consultants); the Best Start 5-year plan for maternal and neonatal services; courses and events in Scotland; and plans for the 2018 Scottish Senior Staff Conference on 12–13 January next year
  • Tim Draycott, International representative for America, Australasia and the Pacific Rim, presented on the RCOG international offer (exams, courses, guidelines, membership and broader outreach) and current and potential activities in specific countries and regions.


Professor Khalid Khan, Editor-in-Chief of BJOG, presented his annual report to Council about the journal. Highlights included:

  • This year’s impact factor increase to 5.051, with BJOG now ranked 4th out of 80 O&G journals
  • Publication of Green-top Guidelines and Scientific Impact Paper in BJOG leading to increased visibility and reach of College guidance
  • Increased reach in China and the Asia-Pacific, key target areas for the journal

Clinical quality

  • The first clinical report from the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit (NMPA) was launched on 9 November, with launch events in England, Scotland and Wales.
  • The College is working with the organisers of the Singapore Congress to pilot the translation of RCOG patient information leaflets into Simplified Chinese. We are using the pilot to quality assure both the process and the end product before expanding this initiative further.
  • In response to significant media and parliamentary interest in vaginal mesh, we have formed a joint advisory group with BSUG to help inform our external affairs activities in this area.
  • We will be setting up a task and finish group to explore with the RCM how best to support informed consent and shared decision-making tools for women and healthcare professionals around pregnancy and birth. We are also re-establishing the RCOG consent group.

Strategic development

  • The College’s 2017 workforce report has now been finalised, collating data and analysis on workforce issues and setting out progress to date. It also outlines recommendations for future action and next steps. The report will be available to all members on the College website.
  • The next workforce survey has been circulated to all UK members. This will build on the data we have already collated and ensure we have up-to-date information on which to base this important work. All members are strongly encouraged to complete the survey to ensure they can be properly represented.
  • The College is developing an India strategy to coordinate various projects under way across the organisation to engage with the Indian membership and O&G profession more widely. The steering group overseeing this work includes representatives from education, membership, clinical quality, global health and business development.
  • The role of the Ethics Committee is being expanded to include consideration of RCOG-related projects that fall outside the remit of NHS or academic ethics committees. The aim is to fill a gap which has meant some RCOG-funded global projects have been refused permission to publish due to lack of ethics committee approval.

UK and global membership

  • We are currently recruiting for a new Specialty Doctor Lead to represent speciality doctors working in women’s health. The SAS lead will have a seat on RCOG Council to represent this important cohort within the profession. All those who are eligible are encouraged to apply – please share this opportunity widely. There are also a number of other committee and honorary positions open – all eligible members are encouraged to apply to ensure we have the broadest possible representation.
  • The Supporting Our Doctors group has been working with the GMC to develop tools and resources to better support our members who are investigated by the GMC. Terence Stephenson, Chair of the GMC, did a Q&A session with Lesley Regan at the Annual Professional Development conference and there is also an interview in the next issue of the membership magazine.
  • At the Singapore Congress there will be a meeting of the International Representative Committee (IRC) chairs, building on the engagement activities the RCOG has had with them over the past year.


  • The Part 3 exam took place on 13–14 November, with 358 candidates. The exam also took place in Hong Kong for the first time, with 25 candidates sitting the exam.
  • The RCOG visited Iceland following a request to develop a structured training programme for their trainees based on the UK ST1–ST3 curriculum, and we have signed an agreement to assist and accredit them for the next three years at Landspitali Hospital. This is the first venture of its kind for the College and we are using it as a pilot for future similar activities. The visit also opened up other opportunities to collaborate.
  • In April 2018 the College may be visiting Beijing and Shanghai to meet with O&G consultants and trainees to help enable preparation for the MRCOG exam which will be held in Beijing in January 2019.The visit will also pursue further areas of collaboration.
  • A record number of abstracts have been received for the 2018 Singapore World Congress.

Global health

  • Work on the strategy for the Centre for Women’s Global Health is ongoing, informed by the global health workshop at September Council and a gap analysis exercise led by external experts.
  • The Leading Safe Choices programme has been granted a no-cost extension to the end of 2018, allowing the as yet unspent donor funding to be used to complete the programme’s objectives.
  • The College has received a further year’s funding from THET to run our Excellence in Obstetric Skills course at Kitovu Hospital in Uganda. We have also submitted another bid to THET to fund our Excellence in Essential Gynaecology Skills course in Nigeria, with the Nigerian Minister of Health committed to match-funding if our bid is successful.
  • We are carrying out various advocacy activities in support of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

Women’s Network

  • On 14 October the College hosted the Women’s Voices Conference, an event run by women with experience of maternity care with the aim of influencing maternity policy and practice in the UK.
  • The National Maternity Voices Partnership had a stall at the RCOG National Trainees Conference, helping to raise awareness.
  • Members of the Women’s Voices Involvement Panel (WVIP) have been involved in a research project on the use of pessaries to treat prolapse, and in providing the woman’s perspective on gynaecological health issues to medical students.
  • Key concerns and issues raised by the WVIP Facebook group include: difficulties accessing elective caesarean section; cuts to fertility funding; and lack of awareness and support among healthcare professionals for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH)

  • On 23 November FSRH Council voted overwhelmingly in support of the decriminalisation of abortion, the ability to take abortion medication at home and the need to link up abortion and contraceptive services. Their statement and position are available on the FSRH website.
  • As part of their governance review, the FSRH have now established a Board of Trustees.
  • FSRH held their annual Current Choices conference on 2–3 November, focusing on contraception and abortion.
  • The FSRH are piloting a new MOOC (massive online open course) on contraceptive choice.

President’s update

  • Following the September vote on decriminalisation of abortion, the College has been asked to contribute to a range of policy and parliamentary initiatives on abortion, including: provision of NHS-funded abortion care for women travelling to England from Northern Ireland; evidence-gathering about the home use of misoprostol; commenting on the Isle of Man draft abortion bill; giving evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health; and developing a centralised booking system. Work on the curriculum and on specialist commissioning for late and complex abortions is ongoing.
  • We are finalising a letter to be sent to CCGs, Clinical Directors, CEOs and other relevant people to clarify the workforce recommendations we published in November 2016 in Providing Quality Care for Women: Obstetrics and Gynaecology Workforce, stressing that we no longer recommend a specific number of hours of consultant cover on the labour ward. Instead, our recommendation is that the consultant workforce should be sufficient to provide a safe service individualised to local needs. [Since the Council meeting, the letter has been sent.]
  • We are increasingly being invited to meet with various members of the Department of Health team to advise and influence on women’s health issues. The President has recently met all members of the senior team – Jeremy Hunt, Philip Dunne and Jackie Doyle-Price – as well as other MPS interested and active in this area. Jeremy Hunt launched his refreshed maternity strategy at the College on 28 November.