Attempt to set up RACP “council of elders” defeated at conference

Medical politics

7 May 2019

A proposal to overhaul the governance of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians by creating a ‘council of elders’ has been significantly rejected at the College’s annual congress.

An extraordinary general meeting was called at the congress in Auckland on 6 May to discuss and vote on the creation of the “Respected Fellows” membership category, which would have been based on a select group of doctors who have held a fellowship for a minimum of ten years.

At the EGM it is understood all four motions contained in the so-called “wise men” proposal were voted against by over 70% of the roughly 2500 attendees. It would have required 75% in favour for it to be adopted.

The concept had been sharply criticised as elitist  and anti-democratic by some among the College’s reform element but at least one observer has said they hoped the vote would mean an end to the internecine warfare that has plagued the RACP in recent years.

The RACP released a short statement about the result, noting “four resolutions put to the meeting by 100 members to amend the RACP constitution were defeated”.

Meanwhile controversy around the College continued with the recent announcement it was being investigated by The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), the national regulator of charities and not-for-profits.

A statement from the RACP said it wanted to reassure trainees and Fellows that its “annual program of written and clinical examinations, training and inductions to Fellowship will continue as normal while this investigation is underway”.

“After discussions with the ACNC today, the Board has committed to enter into a voluntary compliance agreement with the Commission in relation to improvement of Board culture and governance,” it said, vowing to keep members, staff and other stakeholders informed.

RACP President, Associate Professor Mark Lane later said he welcomed “the assistance of the ACNC’s expertise in governance and look forward to working with them to ensure the College operates in the interests of all its members.”

The ACNC wouldn’t add anything further except to confirm it was investigating.

The College’s reform-bloc President-elect John Wilson, who was voted in April 2018, will take over the presidential reigns in 2020.

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