President's Column October 2023

The College has finalised its submission to the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Advisory Committee’s Telehealth Post-Implementation Review consultation. We have made strong representation, with a focus on our disagreement with Recommendation 9 (For initial consultations, make specialist MBS items available only face-to-face, with subsequent consultations available through telephone or video at the clinician’s discretion). We have highlighted that since the introduction of telehealth in psychiatry, advantages have included increased accessibility for consumers, improved consumer wellbeing engagement and increased service availability. I thank College members for their feedback to the consultation and we will continue to advocate for services aligned to our Professional Practice Guideline for the use of Telehealth in Psychiatry.

While the New Zealand elections are now behind us with a successful outcome for the National Party led Coalition Government, the RANZCP’s campaign in the lead up to the election will help to shape the future of mental health reform in Aotearoa.

Led by Dr Hiran Thabrew, Chair of Tu Te Akaaka Roa, our pre-election advocacy efforts were centred around three key pillars: addressing our workforce shortage, remembering the 5% with the greatest need, and committing to making evidence-based decisions. It was encouraging to see the National Party embrace our call for change and commit to making significant strides towards this direction. We will continue to work collaboratively with the new government to ensure that all New Zealanders have access to timely and high quality mental healthcare, when, where and how they need it.

The College is moving forward in our work to meet the conditions of the 2022 AMC Accreditation Report. The Australian Council for Education Research has been engaged to review areas of the curriculum, work which will extend into 2024. Along with the Community Collaboration Committee's work on developing a new Lived Experience Strategy for the College, this is contributing to the majority of conditions now having a status of in progress on the Accreditation webpage.

I am delighted to welcome Dr Warren Kealy-Bateman who was appointed to the RANZCP Board earlier this month to fill the Elected Director (Casual Vacancy) position. He brings experience and enthusiasm to the role, and I look forward to working with him over the next seven months. I also thank outgoing Board Director, Professor Neeraj Gill, for his significant contributions over the past three years, and I wish him well in all his future endeavours.

Over the past few months, we have been profiling a number of trainees from the College's Bi-national Committee for Trainees, who are working tirelessly to represent the voices of our trainees across various College committees. I’m delighted to spotlight two such trainees – Dr Stephen McManis and Dr Amanda Young – in Psyche this month. I express my sincere thanks to all trainees for your commitment and your contributions.  

The RANZCP Foundation is pleased to present an exclusive virtual masterclass on anxiety disorders on 25 November. It’s an opportunity to learn from leading experts who will cover the diagnostic construct of anxiety disorders and their comorbidity, evidence-based recommendations for psychological approaches to treating anxiety disorders, and novel treatments and lifestyle recommendations that may alleviate symptoms of anxiety.

Both the Faculty of Psychotherapy conference and the Faculty of Adult Psychiatry conference earlier this month were well attended and received positive feedback from members. Work is in full swing to confirm our events calendar for next year and it’s not too soon to start planning your attendance for 2024!

And lastly, these past few weeks have presented significant challenges for many of us as we collectively grapple with the current state of affairs in Australia and around the world. So, I’d like to leave you with a reminder that the RANZCP Member Support Program is available 24x7, free of charge, for all members and your family/whānau.

 

Dr Elizabeth Moore
RANZCP President

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