I wanted to update you on initiatives the College is advocating for with our politicians, CMOs and healthcare leaders.  

In the intensifying coronavirus situation, is it crucial that we do not lose sight of safety; the safety not only of the community and patients, but the safety of healthcare workers at the frontline of this public health emergency. The healthcare workforce is a precious commodity in these times. Our communities need us, we need each other and we cannot afford to be taken out of the fight. 
Preparedness, planning, policies, guidelines and resourcing within our systems must protect us.

We know that the planning and response efforts are rightly and rapidly progressing across our two countries. We are in the unique position of being involved in planning, as well as currently working on the front line, which is challenging us all.

The College and our emergency doctors have welcomed the opportunity to be involved in these processes, but in such difficult times, it is imperative that our views, concerns and needs are heard and responded to by governments and systems as a priority.

As part of our advocacy to governments and jurisdictions the College has put it emphatically that the safety of our workforce must be front of mind. There is nothing more important than the safety of our healthcare workforce.

We are in a fast-moving and hard-to-predict situation. But all of this highlights the importance of safety even more; taking just that little bit of extra time to ensure that measures and precautions are in place, such as getting someone else to double check your PPE is in place correctly, for instance.

PPE is just one component, but it’s a crucial one. We appreciate the topic of PPE and its availability is the cause of much concern not only in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, but across the world as global disruptions and heightened demand place pressure on supply.

In our representations to governments we have continued to highlight that the supply and security of PPE, as well as training in its use for frontline staff must be an ongoing priority.

As part of our response to COVID-19 we also continue to work in collaboration with Safer Care Victoria and members across Australia and New Zealand to establish a repository of guidelines hosted on ACEM’s website, which we will provide to you as soon as they are available; currently this is anticipated to be next week.

We are also progressing with the development of our structured faculty communication tool (based on Microsoft Teams) to streamline communication and information sharing.
As always we remain committed to playing our part in whole-of-healthcare-system responses to the coronavirus emergency. We are in ongoing discussions with our colleagues from critical care colleges and associations as we continue to plan for how to contend with some of the sickest patients we will no doubt be called upon to treat.

Equally, we continue to push for the community to step up to its responsibilities in the fight against the virus, through the reinforcement of public health messaging and ongoing calls for community screening and care options.

To keep our communities and healthcare staff as safe as possible we must ensure patients get to where they need to be, and that our emergency departments are not the default option for the worried or mildly ill among us.

The safety and wellbeing of all members, trainees and College staff remains at the heart of our COVID-19 response.

The ongoing situation continues to present much uncertainty, and I again want to reassure you all that the College continues to stand by you, and is doing what it can to mitigate the effects of this pandemic as much as possible.

We remain particularly mindful of the inconveniences created for trainees by some recent decisions taken by the College Board in relation to examinations.

While these were deeply considered and necessary due to circumstances beyond any of our control, we remain committed to providing as much certainty and flexibility as possible to all members and trainees in the weeks and month ahead.

I continue to meet daily with the College’s executive leadership team as we stay up-to-date and respond to the situation, and we will also have more to communicate with you later in the week following a further meeting of the College’s Board. Indeed, we will continue providing updates and information to members and trainees as required, and as often as possible.

In finishing, I would like to thank all of you for your efforts, current and ongoing as we all continue to feel the pressure.

You are all precious and valuable assets to your communities, and right now those communities need us more than ever.

I know we are up to the task.

Kia kaha – be strong
Nga mihi nui