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Blog from RCOG President: March 2024

6 Mar 2024

In the latest President’s blog, Ranee Thakar talks about some of the key priorities for the RCOG in 2024, and the opportunities for members to help shape them over the year ahead.

I wanted to start my blog by thanking you for the incredible work you do caring for women and girls around the world. Recognising that we continue to work in challenging times, your passion and resilience truly does inspire me every day.

At the RCOG Council meeting in January, my brilliant team of Officers and I set out the College’s priorities for 2024. A range of critical projects will commence or are continuing this year, some of which I have highlighted here, and we are committed to listening to and involving the College’s membership in all of these.

The year got off to an incredible start with the news that our new Curriculum 2024 has been approved by the GMC. I am grateful to everyone who supported this work, and proud that experiences of our learners and trainees are at the core of the curriculum’s development, which will help to shape our profession for many years. Learn more about Curriculum 2024.

The College is also commencing a new project focused on improving obstetric and gynaecology surgical training this year. This important work aims to tackle training challenges currently faced within the specialty, and to design improved training aligned to how surgical care will be provided in the future. This is a three-year project, and the College will be reaching out to members so that your experience and expertise shapes the first phase of this work.

Since our Left for too long report (2022) the RCOG has continued to advocate for action on UK elective gynaecology waiting lists. In January, I spoke at a joint RCOG and NHS England summit on outpatient gynaecology service transformation , and this year we will be undertaking a comprehensive follow-up to Left for too long. We will be identifying local solutions and good practices, alongside forming evidence-based recommendations to influence national policy. It is vital this is shaped by Members and Fellows, and wider primary and secondary care health professionals. Get involved with this work

The Officers and I also remain committed to supporting members to deliver safe, high-quality maternity care. We welcomed the latest CQC annual national maternity survey showing significant improvement in many areas, but further progress is needed. The College will pursue this through our role as educators developing the curriculum, improving standards through clinical guidance, supporting career development through exams, and professional development through courses and events. We hope the new RCOG maternity safety resource hub will help teams to access and use the wealth of College resources, guidelines, resources and tools already available.

While green shoots of progress are being seen on workforce numbers, maternity units remain under significant pressure. This is inextricably linked to staff wellbeing and to women’s outcomes. Last month, I gave evidence at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Birth Trauma, advocating on behalf of our members and the women affected by trauma for continued Government investment in maternity services.

I would also encourage you to read the new RCOG Good Practice Paper providing operational guidance on managing events surrounding a maternal death. This important paper was developed to ensure that partners, families and maternity staff receive the best support at an incredibly difficult time.

In 2024, the College will also continue to deliver against our commitment to tackling the racial and ethnic inequities that persist in our specialty, as well as in women’s health outcomes and experiences. Since my last update, we appointed a Clinical Fellow to support our racial and ethnic inequities programme work. One of their first actions will be meeting with the regional leads on differential attainment, and hosting focus groups to share good practice. You can read more about our ambition on working towards racial equity on the new RCOG Equality, Diversity and Inclusion hub.

Equally critical, I will continue to champion the RCOG’s support for our membership on responding to the climate crisis. We are currently developing a comprehensive programme of work to support our membership to provide more sustainable care, to advocate for change at a national level, and to limit the College’s own contributions to the climate and ecological crisis. One upcoming project will be working with maternity professionals and women to develop resources which support the delivery of more sustainable maternity care. We are in the final stages of recruiting a Clinical Fellow to lead this important programme, and are also creating an expert reference group. We encourage all interested members to respond to our expression of interest form .

The RCOG is on track to achieve a reduction in our carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, from a 2019 baseline. Solar panels are now generating green energy at our Union Street building, and a freight audit is under way. We will continue to advocate for change at a national level, including the recent publication of our UK position statement on air pollution.

I often say that one of the most rewarding aspects of my role is speaking to members around the world about the issues that matter most to you. I see and hear first-hand how committed our members are to caring for women and girls, yet we must also recognise how our specialties are often stretched to the limit, and the impact this has on our members’ health and wellbeing.

I recently attended a Doctors in Distress event at Downing Street, where disturbing figures on suicide rates in the medical profession were presented. Supporting your wellbeing and mental health during these challenging times for our specialty is at the core of everything the College does. This site has a wellbeing hub with many wellbeing resources and information, but I would encourage you to let the College know how else we can support you.

The College highly values the diverse expertise of our membership and other stakeholders to help shape the future direction of its work. There are a variety of ways to get involved, from long-term roles on committees and working groups to contributing to important consultations and surveys. Volunteering with the RCOG is rewarding, supports career development, puts you at the forefront of vital work to improve women’s global healthcare.

We have some fantastic events coming up over the months ahead. Last week I was delighted to see so many of you participating in our Annual Professional Development conference, joining sessions from industry experts.

On International Women’s Day, 7 March, the College is delighted to be hosting a fantastic event on ‘Innovation and Action in Global Gynaecological Healthcare’. You can book to attend this free event, either in person or virtually. Then, it’s our National Trainees conference on 20-21 May, in Brighton, UK, an event designed by trainees for trainees, addressing their needs.

The countdown is also already on to the RCOG World Congress in Oman on 15-17 October. The deadline for abstracts is 8 April and, embracing the wonders of digital technology, I have produced a video with my personal tips for submitting a good abstract .

On a personal note, I was honoured to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Indian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ICOG) at the All India Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, in Hyderabad, India in January. It is wonderful to become part of the ICOG community working within a global community of professionals to improve women’s health. As many of you will know, I trained in India, and as the leader of a global college with the highest number of overseas members in India, I was immensely proud to accept this award.

I look forward to sharing my next update with you in April.

With very best wishes,

Ranee Thakar, RCOG President

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