Members of ACEM's ACT faculty and I met with the ACT's Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith, MLA to discuss the pressures on emergency departments.
I also visited the first ED I ever worked at, the Canberra Hospital, which felt like a homecoming. Despite two major renovations, I was surprised and delighted that I still knew my way around. But the best thing was rediscovering a group of old friends and role models, who still felt like family after all these years.
Thank you to everyone in the ACT who shared their stories, concerns, ideas, and thoughts with me, during my visit. It was so powerful to spend time with you, in-person, and I look forward to visiting our other jurisdictions soon.
At the College, we are looking forward to several in-person events coming up.
Next month is the Manaaki Mana Kaikōkiri Hui, held at Te-Poho-o-Rawiri marae in Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa (Gisborne) from Thursday 27th to Friday 28th October. At the hui, Manaaki Mana Kaikōkiri champions from EDs around Aoteaoroa will come together and share their vision for excellence and equity for Māori in emergency care with wānanga (discussions), whakawhanaungatanga (relationship building), akoranga (learning) and ngā mahi pārekareka (recreational activities).
Planning for the ACEM 2022 Spring Symposium in Christchurch continues, and I am delighted that Dr Jan Bone has accepted the role of MC.
In other positive news, last month Dr Stephen Gourley was elected as the College’s next President-Elect. Stephen has been significantly involved in College advocacy and healthcare system reform efforts, through a range of College roles. He will also be our first FACEM from the Northern Territory to be elected President-Elect. Stephen has long been an advocate for improving rural, regional and remote healthcare, and I believe this will greatly inform his Presidency, as the College continues to advocate for genuine equity in the health systems across Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia.
On to more serious topics – this Thursday the 8th of September is R U OK Day. While it can feel like there are so many ‘days’ these days, this one matters deeply. It is hard to articulate the importance of mental health support for healthcare workers and the importance of checking in on each other.
We know, for a fact, that doctors – particularly women – suicide at a higher rate than the general population. We know that junior doctors report that in their early years of training, one-quarter to one-third report significant mental ill-health.
The structural and cultural shifts needed to change this are extensive and complex, and the College is dedicated to continuing to strive for improvements. ACEM also provides various supports for members and trainees, as do other organisations such as the Black Dog Institute and I encourage you to utilise these if needed, and to reach out to your fellow FACEMs and trainees and ask, R U OK?
In the advocacy space, ACEM continues to work with stakeholders across the health system and publicly advocate for greater understanding of, and solutions for, the problems within the system.
In Australia, the public discussion has shifted recently towards a better understanding of the links between primary care deficits and emergency department pressures, and the links between failings in areas of federal government responsibility – such as the NDIS and aged care – and acute hospital system. We stand united with our specialist General Practitioner colleagues, and all other stakeholders across the health system, in working towards a future where every Australian can receive affordable, easily accessible care, when and where they need it.
The Victorian state election is nearing, and we are pleased to see that – as in other recent elections – health is firmly on the political agenda. ACEM will be advocating, privately and publicly, for focus on state areas of responsibility that will lead to improvements to the public health system.
Finally, the issue of climate change and health continues to require urgent attention. ACEM’s Chair, Public Health and Disaster Committee, Dr Lai Heng Foong will be representing the College at the Better Futures Forum in Canberra this month discussing the links of climate change on emergency medicine and advocating for solutions to this health emergency.
Until next month, thank you, for all that you do. Whatever the month brings, we will get through it like we always do – together.
Dr Clare Skinner
ACEM President