RACS welcomes inquiry recommendations

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THE below statement to the BDN from Simon Williams, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons censor-in-chief, was unable to be published in Tuesday’s print edition due to space constraints.

However, it is reproduced here in full.

 “The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) welcomed the Lost in the Labyrinth report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing, tabled in the Australian Parliament in March 2012,” Mr Williams said. 

“The report made a number of recommendations regarding support for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) being assessed for their comparability to an Australian trained surgeon. 

“Some recommendations from the report assigned lead agencies to consult and investigate with the medical colleges and other stakeholders, and, where invited, RACS is working with those agencies. 

“The inquiry addressed all IMGs in Australia rather than specific colleges or medical specialties, and consequently the recommendations were general in nature and not all are targeted at the colleges. 

“In some cases individual colleges may already have had policies and procedures in place that complied with, or exceeded, the recommendations of the report. 

“For example RACS has a well-developed and publicised appeals process. 

“RACS continues to review its processes and to incorporate the committee’s recommendations where appropriate.      

“Recommendation 8 from the report states in part that ‘college examinations should only be used as an assessment tool where specialist IMGs are recent graduates, or where deficiencies or concerns have been identified during workplace based assessment’.

“An important part of the RACS IMG assessment process is a period of clinical assessment of 12 to 24 months. 

“This workplace based assessment, which has been a feature of RACS IMG assessment for more than 10 years, enables the IMG to be assessed for their technical skills as well as other college competencies such as communication, collaboration, health advocacy and professionalism. 

“Where an IMG is performing at a level of substantial comparability they can be exempted from the Fellowship examination.

“At Dr Ahrens’ initial assessment, concerns were identified with his scope of practice in several areas including trauma surgery.  

“Subsequently Dr Ahrens undertook workplace based assessment by the College which did not confirm substantial comparability in those areas.  

“Consequently, the College maintains that Dr Ahrens should undertake the Fellowship examination to confirm that he is at the same standard expected of Australian graduates.

“It is our understanding that the Medical Board of Australia extended Dr Ahrens’ medical registration in 2011 and clearly stated that he must ‘provide evidence to the NSW Board of the Medical Board of Australia of satisfactory progress towards Specialist registration by December 6, 2012’.

“The College has provided Dr Ahrens with a pathway to Fellowship of the College and has indicated its willingness to work with him in achieving that goal. 

“Dr Ahrens has repeatedly refused to follow the recommendation of the College, and has not made any contact with the College in 2012.

“We remain willing to work with Dr Ahrens, but we cannot compel him to work with us. 

“At this time Dr Ahrens has excluded RACS from his efforts to attain specialist registration and his ongoing registration is a matter between him and the Medical Board of Australia.”