COVID-19 Pandemic Communique – 16 July 2020

All College Presidents and CEOs in Australia and New Zealand met by video technology on Thursday 16th July 2020, to communicate, collaborate and share information on what issues need to be considered as a result of the pandemic. This Communique reflects the broad discussions and decisions made.

All College President and Chief Executives expressed their appreciation to all of Australia’s health care workers, noting in particular the increase in stress and mental health challenges arising from the second wave and lockdown, the impact restrictions have on training and workforce generally, and the continual concerns regarding access to sufficient PPE.

Department of Health Update: Dr Andrew Singer AM advised of release of a half million masks from the national medical stockpile to Victoria, mainly for supply outside of public hospitals, GPs, private hospitals; changed criteria for access to telehealth items; MBS Taskforce conclusion and recommendations.

New Zealand Update: Dr John Bonning, President, Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) and Chair, Council of Medical Colleges, New Zealand (CMCNZ) advised of the COVID case situation in New Zealand and monitoring of any community transmission. Dr Vanessa Beavis, President Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) extended concern for wellbeing of all Australian doctors and health care workers.

Critical Care Update: Dr Ray Raper, AM, President, College of Intensive Care Medicine (CICM) noted the risk to health system functioning if a surge in COVID cases occurs including health care workers acquiring the disease. Dr Jenkins thanked Dr Raper as his term will conclude, and welcomed Dr Mary Pinder as President-elect.

Medical Workforce Update: College Presidents noted the resumption of activity to develop a National Medical Workforce Strategy with scoping framework out for consultation; a concern about training capability across Australia and New Zealand given the different situations in each country as well as regions within those countries. A project proposal by CPMC to undertake analysis of the impact of COVID on training under government consideration, with College Presidents indicating the circumstance may result in very different training experiences and opportunities. Ongoing concerns for rural and regional practitioners include GP fatigue, PPE access and proper use, patient access to care, and patient reluctance to seek care for chronic conditions and screening during the pandemic.

Communique released by Dr Kym Jenkins Chair Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges

CONTACT: Ms Angela Magarry, FCHSM, Chief Executive, or +61437227422