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Blog from RCOG President: May 2024

8 May 2024

In the latest President blog, Ranee Thakar shares news of the launch of a new O&G surgery training programme, the annual funding and awards cycle which is now live, and the many opportunities to join upcoming flagship events and training opportunities.

Hello and welcome to my May update.

In this issue, I am delighted to share updates on a range of the College’s priority programmes, alongside news about the annual awards cycle, opportunities to get involved in RCOG work and upcoming events. As always, the Vice Presidents and I remain resolutely focused on supporting Members and Fellows throughout your career journeys and growing our global O&G community. Through this focus, we will continue to deliver on our crucial mission of improving the health of women and girls worldwide.

The College is committed to leading the way in ensuring O&G surgery training and standards continue to meet the needs of our current and future Members and Fellows, and the wider O&G workforce. In April, we announced the start of a new three-year programme focused on this important area.

We are also committed to supporting our membership to respond to the climate crisis. We have developed a comprehensive programme of work to support more sustainable care, advocate for national change, and limit the College’s own contributions to the climate and ecological crisis. Excitingly, the College has been awarded funding from the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Healthcare Programme to deliver a project to identify carbon and inequity hotspots in the maternity care pathway to support the implementation of lower carbon NHS care models. Learn about our ambitions.

The diversity within the global O&G community is one of our greatest strengths, and I am committed to delivering meaningful action to tackle racism within our workforce and address barriers to career progression. The College is currently developing the first research phase of our Race Equity Project, reviewing data and literature to inform our work plan. I will continue to work hard to listen to our members’ lived experience and to act on this, and will share regular updates with members. The College has also developed excellent e-learning modules on tackling racism, and you can read more about the ambition for our Race Equity project.

The College has also created a free online hub for International Medical Graduates aimed at doctors new to, or considering a move to, the UK. The hub signposts many practical sources of information about living in the UK, recognising that adapting to a new environment, both professionally and personally, can be challenging.

Since my last update, I was saddened to read the stark data published in the latest NHS annual staff survey that found nearly 9% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment at work from a patient or member of the public. The RCOG takes a zero-tolerance approach to harassment of any kind, and you can read our response. I wanted to remind you all of the College’s Workplace Behaviour Toolkit, which is a free resource members can use to help raise awareness of and combat poor behaviour. All of our members, at any career stage, are encouraged to report allegations of sexual harassment to their Trust and to seek confidential advice via our support services.

Maternity safety remains a critical focus for my presidency. The College plays an important role in ensuring high quality maternity care is delivered, and is continually raising the standards of professional practice globally, which includes improving maternity safety. You can view the maternity safety hub and our wellbeing hub to see all of the ways the College already supports our Members and Fellows in delivering safer care. We have also recently convened an Independent Advisory Group for Maternity Safety to support our future work, which will bring together individuals with knowledge and expertise within the field of maternity safety, which reflects our commitment to put women at the heart of all we do. We want to listen to your concerns and understand further how you would like the College to support you and we will soon be asking for your views. Further details will be shared shortly in the College’s newsletter and on our ‘have your say’ page.

The College also continues to work closely with Members of Parliament to champion the focus on women’s health across the life course. We hosted Labour’s Shadow Women’s Health Minister, Abena Oppong-Asare MP, at the College’s Union Street home, for a One Voice partnership roundtable in April. We discussed the importance of working together to improve maternity care, reduce maternal disparities and support the maternity workforce. I also welcomed Abena’s commitment to the Women’s Health Strategy and focus on addressing the unacceptable waiting times for those needing gynaecological outpatient appointments.

Our UK parliamentary work continues to focus on the decriminalisation of abortion. The College continues to brief MPs to support an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill that would remove women from the criminal law to ending their own pregnancies.

The College’s global health work to advocate for access to safe gynaecological healthcare for all women and girls around the world continues. We published a new statement opposing the proposed repeal of the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) ban in The Gambia and urge lawmakers in The Gambia to uphold their obligations under international conventions by retaining the ban on FGM. Together, we must work tirelessly to ensure that every girl and woman has the right to live free from the fear and harm of FGM, and speak out against any attempts to roll back progress on ending FGM.

Last month, the College’s flagship Making Abortion Safe (MAS) programme drew to a close, a culmination of four years of collaboration across five African nations. I was incredibly proud to attend the closing event with several of the amazing Champions who have been such passionate advocates for the programme. My huge thanks and congratulations go to everyone involved in this incredible work. Moving forward, the RCOG remains absolutely committed to increasing access to quality abortion care around the world.

We are exceptionally proud that our membership continues to grow, reaching 17,500 members this year. Around half of our members practise outside the UK, working in more than 125 countries!

Over the last couple of months, my feet have barely touched the ground as I have travelled the world representing the College and the profession. I was honoured to travel to Egypt to join the International Representatives Committee for fantastic membership engagement and training events in Cairo. I also met with colleagues in Hyderabad in India, and Dhaka in Bangladesh where I was proud to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Indian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Bangladesh College of physicians and surgeons. At the end of April, I travelled to Japan and was delighted to receive an Honorary Fellowship from the Japanese Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Later this month, I am very much looking forward to the Asia and Oceanic Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (AOFOG) Congress in Busan, Korea on 17-21 May. On this trip, I will be accompanied by two Trainees, who are taking part in Korea’s fantastic Community Fellowship Program.

We have some fantastic events coming up over the months ahead, and many opportunities for you to get involved in the work of the College and network with your peers. It’s our National Trainees conference on 20-21 May, in Brighton, an event designed by Trainees for Trainees. The RCOG World Congress in Oman on 15-17 October is also a wonderful opportunity to meet with colleagues and to hear about the latest innovations in our specialty.

I’m pleased to announce that the RCOG annual award cycle is now live until 23 May. This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate achievement and innovation in our specialty. We also invite nominations for Honorary Fellowships and prizes for exceptional and original contributions to the field. Members can also apply for research and training funding. Don’t miss out!

Finally, I would like to thank all those who contribute to the College’s work. Almost every area of College business, be it our Board, committees, guidelines development, events and exam delivery and advisory groups, is supported by the expertise of clinical volunteers from around the world. Our members are truly the College’s beating heart, bringing insights and solutions from the frontline to support our global mission of improving the health of women and girls. I warmly encourage you to find out more about getting involved in our work.

I look forward to meeting with many of you at our forthcoming events and sharing my next update with you in the Summer.

With very best wishes,


Ranee Thakar, RCOG President

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