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Council précis, September 2017

Précis from the Council meeting which took place on 22 and 23 September 2017

Abortion decriminalisation

Following consultation with UK members, Council voted strongly in support of a position statement supporting the removal of criminal sanctions from abortion.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank those Fellows and Members who submitted feedback to their Council representative and/or directly to the President and Officers. We received some very balanced, well thought through arguments for or against our proposed position and we would like to reassure you that these responses have been collated and we will use them whilst considering our approach to this and other issues relating to workforce and abortion going forward.


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.

  • Dr Ranee Thakar, Fellows’ representative for South Asia, gave a presentation on the region, which covered: India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
  • Mr Hassan Shehata, Fellows’ representative for the Middle East and North Africa, gave a presentation on the region, which covered Egypt, Libya and Tunisia in North Africa, and Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon in the Middle East.
  • Miss Felicity Ashworth, Fellows’ representative, and Dr Deborah Harrington, Members’ representative for Thames Valley and Wessex, gave a presentation on the region.



  • The MRCOG Improvement Project is under way. This initiative will look at all aspects of the MRCOG exam, including its positioning outside the UK.
  • The first phase of the INDIGO project – investigating experiences of traumatic work-related events in gynaecologists and obstetricians – has been completed with over 900 responses. The next phase is further in-depth interviews with some respondents. The outcomes of this work will feed into our ‘Supporting our doctors’ programme.
  • There has been ongoing collaborative work with the RCGP: the educational framework for GPs with an interest in women’s health is now live, collating resources from the RCOG, RCGP and FSRH on women’s health issues; and we have established a DRCOG Task and Finish Group to review our Diploma, which will report in late 2018.
  • After a number of site visits and a review of a number of options, the venue for the RCOG World Congress 2020 has been confirmed as Oman. This follows Singapore in 2018 and London in 2019.
  • As part of the Government’s Tobacco Control Plan for England, there has been a review of how smoking cessation is covered within training programmes for the maternity workforce. The report makes a number of recommendations which the RCOG will be addressing.


UK and global membership

  • The RCOG is about to start recruiting for a new SAS Lead, who will represent all SAS doctors within the RCOG. The new SAS Lead will be a member of Council. Please keep an eye out for this opportunity and encourage your colleagues to apply.
  • The Supporting our Doctors Task Group met for the first time in August. Forthcoming activities include: contributing to and disseminating a GMC ‘top tips and guidance’ leaflet for doctors who receive notice that a complaint has been made against them; contributing to the development of this year’s workforce survey to allow us to capture information about workforce challenges; and developing an enquiry form to allow members to seek confidential advice from the College.
  • New criteria and a new process for job plan approval for new consultant posts have been approved. Full details are available on the College website here.
  • In July the College held a meeting of all Liaison Group (LG) chairs. LGs provide a link between the RCOG and the International Representative Committees (IRCs), and the meeting focused on developing more collaborative ways of working to provide better support to the LGs and IRCs.
  • Following a successful meeting of the IRC Chairs at this year’s World Congress in Cape Town, a follow-up meeting has been confirmed for Singapore next year.


Strategic development

  • The Workforce Task Group is preparing a report for publication in October to update members on how the data collected in 2016 has been used to influence O&G workforce planning, in collaboration with Health Education England, over the past 12 months.
  • We will then be launching the 2017 workforce survey. The questions have been refined to allow us to fill in any gaps in our knowledge and also help us gain more detailed information about key issues such as rota gaps and members’ experiences of resident consultant working. Please ensure you complete the survey – the more information we have, the better we can represent our membership.
  • The Welfare of the Workforce Sub-group is focusing on the high attrition rates among trainees in the O&G specialty training programme. A survey has been sent to all trainees and we are now carrying out focus groups to explore the issues further.
  • The Future Models of Care sub-group has begun exploring the likely evolution of services over the next 10-15 years and the workforce required to deliver this. Health Education England are working with us and will be using the insights and recommendations to inform their future modelling.
  • Discussions are under way with two large private hospital chains in India, Aster and Apollo, to explore options for partnership working. Possibilities include co-development of training programmes, running RCOG courses, and offering RCOG Associate membership to their doctors. We are also discussing the possibility of running joint philanthropic projects.


Clinical quality

  • Following a large amount of positive press coverage of the interim Each Baby Counts report in June, we are about to launch the full report. This will include the full data, as well as implementation tools to support trusts to respond to the recommendations.
  • We are also delighted to announce that Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, is funding a senior midwife to work with trusts around the country over the next 3 years to improve reporting, which will ultimately help the Each Baby Counts team refine and develop their recommendations and improve clinical care.
  • There has also been progress with our Gynae clinical indicators project. The consensus group has now agreed the definitions for the eight indicators the project team will use within gynaecology, allowing us to use the expertise gained within maternity for other critical areas of women’s health.
  • The Lindsay Stewart Centre is also developing its work on data linkages within gynaecological cancer, following approval for data sharing earlier this year.
  • The National Maternity and Perinatal Audit published its first report, on the organisation of maternity care in England, Scotland and Wales, in August. Key findings included the increase in the number of alongside midwifery units, variation in provision of specialist services such as obstetric cardiac clinics, and the extent of rota gaps in units across the three countries. In November the first report on clinical outcomes will be published, with an interactive website to allow you to explore the results for your trust in detail.


Global health

  • Hani Fawzi, Vice President for Global Health, ran a workshop for Council members in which they were asked to contribute to the development of the strategy for the new Centre for Women’s Global Health. Council members worked groups to review the Terms of Reference for all the existing Global Health Committees underpinning the Global Health Board in the current structure.  There was a full and engaged discussion on all aspects of the new strategy and how to involve a range of external experts to advise on the College’s global health work.  The write-up of the workshop will inform discussions at the next Global Health Board.


Updates from the President

  • The workforce mapping project looking at provision of perinatal mental healthcare within obstetrics, midwifery and health visiting has been completed. NHS England commissioned this work and we are waiting for confirmation about publication date for the final report. On 11-12 December the RCOG is holding its first ever perinatal mental health training day and all members are encouraged to attend.
  • The President continues to represent the College on the Maternity Transformation Board, working collaboratively with the Royal College of Midwives to ensure the voice of the profession is heard. As the local maternity systems begin to implement the recommendations within the Maternity Transformation Programme, all members are encouraged to engage at a local level.


Women’s Voices

  • The RCOG has worked in conjunction with Group B Strep Support (GBSS) to develop co-badged patient information to accompany the new Green-top Guideline on early-onset group B streptococcus. This work has been led by Jane Plumb, CEO of GBSS and a member of the RCOG Women’s Network.
  • A number of service users contributed to a workshop to feed into the development of the new O&G curriculum. Attendees advised on issues that were important to them and in which they felt O&G consultants of the future should be trained. The findings from the workshop have been shared with a wider online group for further comment.
  • A new strategy has been developed to increase public and patient involvement in the work of the RCOG. This includes promoting the benefits of local engagement and supporting members to do this.
  • On 14th October there will be an event hosted at the RCOG celebrating women’s voices within O&G. RCOG members are encouraged to attend. More information is available on the RCOG website here.
  • Key issues raised by the Women’s Voices Involvement Panel include: lack of GP knowledge of the NICE guidelines on menopause; period poverty; and the fact that NICE guidelines on elective c-sections is not being followed, with women reporting barriers to care.


Academic O&G

  • The Advanced Professional Module in clinical research was launched in 2016 to support senior trainees and consultants to develop research skills. 12 trainees have registered to date, and the first study day for this module will be held on 1 November 2017.
  • The next Annual Academic Meeting will take place on 8-9 February 2018.
  • The Academic Board is working on a proposal for a one-day workshop to explore how the RCOG can better support academic O&G and engage its members in this work.
  • A new Chair of the Research Committee, and new Chairs for 7 of the 12 Clinical Research Groups, have been appointed.



  • The FSRH are implementing a number of governance changes, including introducing a Board of Trustees in addition to their Council.
  • The FSRH are reviewing their Diploma qualification to ensure it is fir for purpose for modern healthcare and in line with other similar conversations. A particular concern is the fact that far fewer RCOG trainees are taking the qualification than in the past, which may indicate a gap in knowledge of sexual and reproductive health.
  • The FSRH are consulting with their members on a position statement on decriminalisation of abortion, which is largely in line with the statement approved by RCOG Council.