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Blog from RCOG President – March 2023

14 Mar 2023

Welcome to my first RCOG President Blog...

I am delighted to have been elected as President of the RCOG. I never imagined that, as an international medical graduate from India, I would one day be writing my first RCOG Presidential blog.

I feel truly honoured to be in this position, and hope my personal journey to this esteemed office will allow me to ably represent and champion our diverse global O&G community for the next three years.

Before reflecting on my first months in post and ambitions for my Presidential term, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank the College’s outgoing President, Dr Eddie Morris, and his team of excellent Vice Presidents for their dedication over the last three years. On a personal note, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to serve as Vice President for Global health during this time. Together, we led the college through an unprecedented global pandemic and I know our members across the world felt their passion and commitment throughout an incredibly difficult period. I thank Eddie and my fellow Vice Presidents for the incredibly strong legacy they have left.

Looking forward, I know that I will be able to equally rely on my dedicated team of new Vice Presidents, Ian, Asma, Hassan, Laura and Geeta, who bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the College. We represent you, and we are committed to listening to and working closely with the membership. You can read more about the portfolios of the Vice Presidents here and I would warmly encourage you to contact us if we can assist or support you.

In the relatively short period in my new role, I’ve been delighted to have had an opportunity to meet many members already – including at our first membership ceremony of the year, welcoming over 100 new members from 17 countries into the College, and at the Annual Academic Meeting ceremony where I had the pleasure of presenting prizes. It was also fantastic to talk with delegates at the All India College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 65th Conference in Kolkata, and meet colleagues at the Ulster O&G Society meeting in Portrush last month. What better illustration of the fact that we truly are a global Royal College!

In the last three months, I have had the opportunity to promote the important contribution our speciality makes, and to make the case for additional resources and focus, at high level meetings with politicians, other Royal Colleges, the NHS, Department of Health and Social Care leaders and partnership forums, such as the Independent Maternity Working Group.

I will ensure that the College continues to support the breadth of our programmes, both in the UK and globally, to improve the health of all women and girls. However, within this important mission, I have defined three Presidential priorities, where I believe there is incredible scope for us to explore and have a long-term impact.

The first of these is focusing on tackling racism and bias in the O&G profession, alongside reducing the racial inequalities in care that impact women and girls throughout their life course. I am proud that this International Women’s Day we hosted a free online event focused on tackling stigma in Women’s Health services. Healthcare professionals care deeply about the people and communities they serve, and are in a unique position to see, challenge and address stigma. By making stigma more visible, we hope to support Fellows, Members and other healthcare stakeholders to anticipate, plan ahead and address stigmatisation.

Secondly, I am committed to action on environmental sustainability and climate change during my tenure. My focus will be on limiting the College’s own contributions to the climate crisis, supporting our membership to do the same and advocating for change. This will include making clear the links between the climate and ecological crisis and inequalities in women’s health outcomes. One of my first actions has been to confirm the RCOG as a signatory on the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC) commitments announced this month, and I look forward to collaborating with other organisations to deliver on these. You can read about this here.

My third priority is to identify and oversee delivery of RCOG activity in relation to improving gynaecology surgery training. My vision for this work is that it will consider strategies to capitalise on innovation, increase mentoring opportunities, improve and centralise training materials and make changes to the curriculum where required, all with the aim of both improving the experience for trainees and the quality of care for our patients.

I am acutely aware that I have come into post at a time of ongoing challenge for O&G, struggling to recover services from the impact of the pandemic, exacerbated by funding and workforce shortages, with high levels of stress and burnout across the profession. I understand why many UK health professionals have recently chosen to take industrial action and recognise their right to do so. The role of the College is to support and advocate for our members and we have consistently called on the government to put in place a fully funded, long-term NHS workforce plan. This is critical to improving staff recruitment, retention and wellbeing, reducing gynaecology waiting lists and improving maternity experiences and outcomes. You can read our full statement here.

The College is here to support you, and we will get through these difficult times together, with resilience and compassion towards ourselves and our patients. We could not support the membership in the ways we currently do without the incredible support of our over 2,400 volunteers – and I would like to say a huge thank you to all of them.

And finally, in my first blog, I want to thank our UK, ROI and International councillors and International Representative Committees for all the work they do to engage with members and societies, promote RCOG programmes and services, and develop partnerships with other agencies and Colleges in women’s healthcare. They are the voice for local members and advocates for the women and girls we look after, and I am excited to collaborate with them moving forward.

  • Policy and governance
  • Careers and workforce
  • Pregnancy and birth
  • Gynaecology