Dr Eddie Morris writes to the membership
This month has been incredibly busy for me and the College with an RCOG Council meeting, continued work on our response to the Ockenden report and working with NHS England on how we can meaningfully start to address gynaecology waiting lists and the effects their continued suffering has on women. If you haven’t read the Left for too long report yet I would recommend you do as we are very keen to hear your thoughts. Alongside Council we had two admission ceremonies at which we welcomed 86 new members, 16 new fellows, four honorary fellows and one distinguished service medallist, as well as the official opening of our new building at Union Street by two members of the Royal Family and the President Election Q&A session with the four candidates standing to be your next President.
Overseas the RCOG has continued to work with FIGO, UNFPA and other agencies and charities to support families impacted by the worsening crisis in Ukraine, by designing and delivering aid for mothers in labour and also to support prematurely delivered babies as the rate of prematurity increases. This conflict is full of uncertainties and worries for us all but what we can be certain of is that 1,000 babies are delivered every day, often in the most terrible of circumstances. Later this month I will be meeting with a group of Ukrainian obstetricians and gynaecologists where I hope to discover more of their needs.
In the past days we have all become aware of the economic and political crisis in Sri Lanka. It is very early for the RCOG to have established how it can help but I have been in touch with colleagues there who tell me that not being able to purchase vital international resources such as drugs and other medical supplies is soon to have a critical impact. If you have any contacts, details or thoughts on how the RCOG can help our colleagues in Sri Lanka please contact the Centre for Women's Global Health at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you will likely recall in the UK I have been championing our campaign for a ban of both virginity testing and hymenoplasty alongside women’s health and rights charities. These interventions are inextricably linked to forms of violence against women and girls and as a result we have consistently sent, and will continue to send, a clear message to healthcare professionals that neither practice has any place in the medical world and should not be carried out under any circumstances. I do realise this is not the sort of message I normally deliver in my blog, but based on the stories I have heard and testimonials I have read, I feel very strongly on this issue and it is therefore my duty to pass on the message that if someone you know is advertising such services that they are informed that performing such surgery places their position as a Member or Fellow of the RCOG at risk.
This week I write this blog from the Annual Scientific meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG); my first large international congress since taking up office. Over 4,000 delegates attended from all over the world with a wonderful mix of senior clinicians, doctors in training and high quality keynote speakers. I was lucky enough to have a brief meeting with Talia and Mai, both trainee representatives at a senior level in ACOG and was hugely impressed by their enthusiasm and drive so early in their O&G career, just like our very own Trainees' Committee at the RCOG.
The ACOG meeting, like all good congresses, had a great emphasis on CPD but was dominated by two topics. The first topic was recovery from COVID (the conference strap line was ‘Reconnect, recharge, reset’) and it was clear that O&G both sides of the Atlantic has gone on a very similar journey, throughout the pandemic.
The second topic was the recent leak of US court documents that suggested that Roe vs Wade would be overturned in a matter of weeks. Roe vs Wade is the name of the lawsuit that led to the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. At the moment about 18 states are ready to ban any abortion (whatever the reason) if fetal cardiac motion is detected. Tens of thousands of women will suffer, pregnancies with later diagnosed anomalies would continue and there is a real concern that this decision would widen the already significant inequalities in women’s health that exist in the USA. As a sister society RCOG has offered any help it can to ACOG to advocate for this service in the USA, a vital service that we know is a woman’s right.
You might have seen that recently the RCOG building was officially opened alongside the RCM by Their Royal Highnesses the Princess Royal (patron of the RCM) and the Duchess of Cambridge (patron of the RCOG). This was a truly wonderful occasion and a real privilege for me personally to showcase so much of the RCOG’s vital work to two members of the Royal family who were so interested in what we do. The new building, which I have been privileged to be part of its purchase, design and commissioning, really shone on the day and I had a huge sense of pride to be part of the RCOG and, most importantly, this specialty. The building is not only home to the RCOG and RCM but several charitable organisations, all contributing to our vision of a centre of excellence in women’s health.
Finally if you are a UK Member or Fellow based in the UK or Ireland, you will soon be getting an email from Civica Election Services (CES) the company overseeing the RCOG Presidential election. We have four amazing candidates who have openly committed to take on this phenomenal role, something that I have found to be an absolute honour. Just to remind you though that the success of this democratic process depends on you reading the campaign materials, watching their videos and the recording of the Q&A session, before making your mind up and placing your vote. Voting closes at 12 noon on 7 June.