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Council précis, September 2018

Précis from the Council meeting which took place on 21-22 September 2018

Presentations on regional issues

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

  • Adam Balen and Usha Nair, Fellows’ and Members’ representatives for Northern/Yorkshire/Humberside respectively, presented on: rota gaps and the impact on colleagues filling those gaps, e.g. consultants acting down and having to cancel lists the following day; attrition and the reasons behind this; issues attracting trainees to some areas within the region; a desire for more regional RCOG meetings; and positive feedback on local training arrangements.
  • Sean Kehoe and Tony Thomas, Fellows’ and Members’ representatives for the West Midlands respectively, presented on: levels of rota gaps and the impact on training; challenges caused by the geography of the region; attrition and the reasons for this identified in a trainee survey; and positive feedback from trainees of their experience training in the West Midlands.

Clinical quality

  • A joint NMPA/Each Baby Counts event will be held on 15 November, to present the most up-to-date findings from each project (including the Each Baby Counts analysis of 2016 data, and the NMPA sprint audit on mothers admitted to intensive care) and to provide an opportunity for discussion and sharing of ideas about how to implement the recommendations and improve care.
  • Evaluation of the results of the OASI Care Bundle Project is ongoing, with publications planned for late 2018. The team is also working on animated videos of women’s experiences, a patient information leaflet and an information hub on the RCOG website. There will be a dissemination event on 16 November.
  • The first report from the gynaecology clinical indicators programme, Patterns of Benign Gynaecology Care in English NHS Hospital Trusts 2015/16, has been published. In addition to the national report, 125 NHS Trusts received individualised results to allow them to benchmark the care they provide against national data.


  • Council received a presentation from Stephen Hills, who was commissioned to carry out an external, independent review into the January Part 2 MRCOG results issue. The presentation focused on key findings and recommendations, and was followed by an update on actions the College is taking to address the issues identified.
  • The consultation on the new RCOG core curriculum with RCOG members, the public and other stakeholders has now closed and the College is working through all feedback to identify where changes may be needed before submission to the GMC later this year. The College has also started work on repackaging the ATSM and subspecialty curricula into the outcomes-focused format required by the GMC.
  • The DRCOG Task and Finish Group, looking at ways to improve take-up of the exam and also how to facilitate an ongoing dialogue between the College and DRCOG holders, has now completed its analysis and published a number of recommendations. Work is now under way to implement the recommendations.

UK and global membership

  • As part of the Supporting Our Doctors work, following an initial pilot we are now actively promoting the Expert Opinion Service to support more effective local resolution of workplace issues, where appropriate. We also hosted a round-table with Dr Leslie Hamilton, who is leading the GMC review into gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide following the Bawa-Garba case. This allowed members and trainees to discuss issues and concerns raised by the case. We have also submitted written evidence to the review, based on input from the Supporting Our Doctors and Workforce Task Groups.
  • Council discussed the current criteria for elevation to the Fellowship, as well as current perceptions and misperceptions about how the process works and who is eligible, and suggestions about how to support international Members to apply. The information available on our website, and the process, will now be reviewed to ensure clarity about Fellowship and to encourage more eligible Members to apply.
  • The current process by which Council members approve job plans was discussed, including the need to ensure minimum criteria are applied and that job plans are attractive to potential applicants. The College will be developing a pro forma based on RCOG job planning criteria to support Trusts to create fulfilling job plans and Council members to perform the approval process.

Global health

  • A national dissemination event for Leading Safe Choices has been held on Tanzania, with a similar event planned for South Africa (where the RCOG training will be incorporated into the regional sexual and reproductive health training programme) in December. Work is under way on a bid for funding for a second phase of the Leading Safe Choices programme.
  • THET and DfID have undertaken a very positive visit to the College’s Excellence in Obstetric Skills project in Uganda, which is funded by THET. Preparations are under way for a competency assessment of participants in the Essential Gynaecological Skills pilot in Nigeria.
  • The terms of reference for the College’s Global Health Board have been revamped, with the aim of using the Board to better coordinate cross-College activities outside the UK. This will include the work of the Centre for Women’s Global Health, as well as Membership, Clinical Quality, Education and External Affairs, reflecting the fact that all portfolios now contain an international as well as a UK focus.

Strategic development

  • The three workforce surveys for 2018 have now been completed and analysed, for consultants, trainees and SAS doctors. The key findings will help inform the work of the Workforce Task Force, and will also feed into the workforce workstream of the Maternity Transformation Programme as well as the College’s response to national policy consultations on the NHS workforce and future of the NHS.
  • Work is under way on various initiatives to support the welfare of the workforce, including analysis of focus groups on trainee attrition and the development of recommendations to address this, as well as the development of an HEE-funded return to work toolkit to support both trainees and consultants who are returning to clinical work following time out of programme or other reasons for extended leave.
  • There has been considerable progress with plans for Union Street, with contractors appointed for the new atrium and staircase, tenders for mechanical and electrical work being assessed and the contract for all other work out for tender. Plans for the look and feel are also well under way. Updates are available on the College website.

Academic O&G

  • Council received a presentation on key recommendations from the RCOG Reproductive Health Academic Engagement Forum, which will now be discussed in greater detail and key actions agreed.
  • The Academic Board and Blair Bell Research Society are organising the next Annual Academic Meeting, which will take place on 17–18 January 2019 and will include lectures on global health research training, academic–industry partnerships and women’s voices in research.
  • The Academic Board is establishing a new sub-committee focusing on genomics. The primary aim will be to help the RCOG establish genomics expertise within O&G, including training opportunities as well as engaging the profession on the opportunities genomics presents for the improvement of women’s health.

Women’s Network

  • Members of the Women’s Network have met representatives from the RCGP to discuss issues around awareness of the NICE menopause guideline and advice given to women in general practice. A joint workshop to identify solutions is now being planned for 2019.
  • Plans for a Fertility Day to be held at the College in March 2019 are well under way, with the programme structure agreed and speakers being identified and invited. A panel of Women’s Voices Involvement Panel members will be developing a fertility hub for the RCOG website (following the model of the menopause hub), which will be launched to coincide with the Fertility Day.
  • The Women’s Network and Women’s Voices Involvement Panel have been very supportive of the ‘Please, write to me’ initiative led by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, promoting better communication between consultants and the women they care for.

President’s update

  • Following the announcement that women in England will be able to take misoprostol, the second drug used to effect a medical abortion, at home from early 2019, the President has been asked to convene a task force to support implementation of this new policy.
  • Together with other medical royal college Presidents, the President has been engaging with the Prime Minister’s health advisors and the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to advise on NHS sustainability, long-term planning and key issues facing the medical profession, following the pledge by the Prime Minister to bring forward a long-term funding plan of £20bn by 2023 for the NHS in response to increasing concerns that the service was under pressure from increased demand. The College is also liaising with various policy-makers who are working on specific areas within the new long-term NHS plan, aiming to ensure that a joined-up approach to women’s health is reflected within the plan.
  • The President has been elected Vice Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) and has taken on the policy brief, which is an opportunity to try to encourage all medical specialties to speak with a united voice on issues that members of all of the colleges tell us are important, such as workforce issues. The Vice Chair position also provides additional opportunities to shape how the leaders of the medical royal colleges engage with politicians and policy-makers, including early meetings with Matt Hancock, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.