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A letter from Sussex Place, May 2012

Ian Currie, Honorary Secretary, writes....

“What do I get for my money?”

This question is constantly being asked by the membership today in respect to RCOG subscriptions; and why not? In these times of austerity everyone is feeling the pinch, so shouldn’t we also be asking the RCOG that very same question? Consequently we should begin to look at the issue of value for money.

The College is currently looking at its membership classification, subscriptions and what is actually provided for every individual. A membership strategy document will be formulated and presented to Council later this year for their scrutiny and approval and I personally would like to see the benefits matched to the individual categories; what a trainee wants from the College in terms of support is very different to what a retired fellow of some 40+ years of clinical experience would wish for.

The professional and clinical output from the College is perhaps more voluminous than one might appreciate. It produces many guidelines that are respected and used throughout the world, changing practice in many countries, thereby improving the health of women. At approximately £240,000 the cost of producing one clinical guideline is not insubstantial. In addition, it produces scientific advisory papers, supports CPD, hosts a web site and organises conferences worldwide.

In my opinion, we appear to take these professional benefits for granted. The core values that Members and Fellows receive from the College are embodied in what we have come to expect as the norm. The College has always provided these and so ‘it should just continue’. This is a mindset that rings true with in many of us! After all, we now expect our cars to come with climate control as standard and many other functions we would not have dreamed of in days gone by. These additional items were previously only considered as optional extras at a considerable add-on price.

When we get disgruntled with our annual subscription, I believe we are referring to perceived value on a personal level, not one that affects our working lives. I do not think this attitude is selfish; it is natural. Making clinical life easier though is important in improving our lives as such a large part of what we do is devoted to our job. It has a personal benefit to us. College output that allows every unit and every consultant not to have to resort to reinventing the wheel should however be a priority.

A properly planned and continuously managed benefit scheme is becoming essential in addressing the issues of value and next month the College is launching “RCOG eXXtra”- a managed membership benefit scheme that is free to all Members and Fellows within the British Isles. This scheme will give discounts on many products on a personal level such as holidays, car insurance as well as discounts at many well known department stores. More information will follow during June.

Reinforcing the feeling that membership brings unique privileges are something we should strive for at the RCOG. Placing ‘value for money’ high on the agenda will ensure that benefits of membership are enhanced, but ultimately we should not forget the priority of enhancing our ability as specialists to bringing the best to our patients.

Ian Currie
RCOG Honorary Secretary

If you have any comments, please write to letterfromsussexplace@rcog.org.uk