President's annual report

'Advocacy, community and education are our key areas of work as we strive to strongly represent and support you, and to promote the perioperative safety of your patients.'

Dear NZSA Member

Thank you for supporting your Anaesthesia Society.  There are even more of you to thank this year, due to our steady membership growth. It’s exciting to be at the helm of a thriving organisation and we greatly appreciate the many members who have engaged with the NZSA on issues throughout the year and through various avenues. We value your input; be it sitting on our sub-committees or networks, contacting me personally with issues to discuss, feeding back on consultations, speaking at and/or attending one of our events, writing articles for our magazine – to name just some.

Advocacy, community and education are our key areas of work as we strive to strongly represent and support you, and to promote the perioperative safety of your patients.

2019 has been a productive year, and I think we can feel a sense of pride in the progress we’ve made to build a stronger, more connected anaesthesia community across New Zealand. Our small size as a country is certainly conducive to forging these connections across our specialty.

My report is a succinct overview of 2019, so this is by no means the full story – I encourage you to read our publications throughout the year (e-newsletter and magazine), and to join our social media platforms, to keep updated on our work, achievements and the value we offer to you as a member.

The NZSA provides a strong, credible and well-respected voice for the profession, and input on proposed policies, legislation and standards. We provided feedback on a broad range of topics via submissions and stakeholder meetings in 2019 including:

– Environmental sustainability (especially as it relates to the environmental impact of anaesthesia)
– Medical device procurement under PHARMAC
– End of Life Choice Bill
– Professional self-regulation
– Cultural competence and health equity
– Informed consent
– Recertification
– Fatigue management
– Training of anaesthesia assistants and working to bridge AA shortages.

The NZSA is also a strong advocate for anaesthetists working in the private health sector. Our Private Practice Sub-Committee meets regularly with ACC and the NZ Private Surgical Hospitals Association, and we provide information to members on issues relevant to private practice. We began a project to revise our Relative Value Guide, and an updated version will be released in 2020.

Forging information sharing and connection among our members helps to build a strong anaesthesia community. Our networks have been a major driver behind our progress in this area.

Our subspecialty networks provide collegial and professional support for members, especially those working in smaller, more isolated centres. They’re also a great source of information sharing and learning. In 2019, we added to our existing networks (paediatrics, obstetrics, airway leads), with the formation of the Inpatient Pain Network, and the Environment & Sustainability Network. Both networks hit the ground running from day one.  The Inpatient Pain Network, driven by Dr Mike Foss, held a very well attended event in November supported by the NZSA, which spoke volumes about the need for this network, while the E & S Network has provided a strong voice to help shape policy and legislation on environmental issues, such as the landmark Zero Carbon Bill passed last year. They are also educating anaesthetists on how we can reduce our carbon footprint – we now have a regular Q & A section on the environment and kickstarted this with one in December 2019 on waste disposal. Succinct and practical measures you can adopt to make a difference!

Mental health and wellbeing:
Our work to promote wellness amongst anaesthetists is at the forefront of much of what we do, and we continued to gain momentum in 2019. While this is a challenging area, we are committed to de-stigmatise the conversation around mental ill-health and to provide resources to assist our colleagues. In addition to sharing information on wellness in our member communications we held a mentor training day to build the pool of mentors available for New Zealand anaesthetists. We are also working collaboratively with others, including the ANZCA Welfare Advocates Network, and the Wellbeing Special Interest Group.

Overseas Aid:
Looking further afield, whilst our support for our anaesthesia colleagues in the Pacific is longstanding, I would like to highlight the support of our Overseas Aid Subcommittee for the Pacific Society’s Annual Refreshed Course in August. OASC organised for a record number of locums from NZ to work in the Pacific to enable Pacific Fellows to attend the Refreshed Course – thank you to Dr Indu Kapoor for leading this work and the others who assisted.

The NZSA facilitates and promotes education and professional development for anaesthetists at every stage of their career. Here are some highlights:

  • Hosting the combined AQUA + Annual Scientific Meeting (August) with NZNC and the JAFA Trust which reached full registration even faster than we predicted! We received incredibly positive feedback from attendees.
  • Hosting the Part 3 Course for advanced trainees to make the SMO transition easier.
  • Speaking at the Part O Course run by ANZCA NZNC.
  • Sponsorship of the Annual Registrars’ Meeting.
  • Providing education prizes (John Ritchie Prize and Poster Prize) at the ASM in Queenstown.
  • Co-administration of the Visiting Lectureships with ANZCA NZNC, which provides regional hospitals with the opportunity to hear top notch presentations from anaesthetists working in our country’s city hospitals.
  • Enabling trainees to complete fellowships overseas via the BWT Ritchie Scholarship, jointly offered with ANZCA NZNC. We have now expanded the criteria for this fellowship and encourage you to find out more on the Aotearoa New Zealand Education Committee website.
  • Support for the Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Journal to advance research and education.
  • Underwriting of the webAIRS platform, an online incident reporting system which captures data reporting of anaesthesia morbidity, mortality and near misses.
  • Trainee Grant for a trainee to attend the Pacific Society of Anaesthetist’s annual Refresher Course.

I would like to thank Dr Kerry Holmes who in 2019 concurrently held the roles of NZSA Education Officer, Chair of the NZ Anaesthesia Education Committee and co-convenor of the combined AQUA + ASM. He did a sterling job in all these roles and his passion and drive for education really stood out. We are sorry to see him and Dr Nicole Vogts leave our Executive committee, however we are very pleased to have welcomed Drs Renee Franklin, Jonathan Panckhurst and Michael Wadsworth onto the Executive.

Thank you again to all those who have volunteered their time, knowledge and expertise to support the NZSA and our specialty, to all our members for your loyalty, and of course to our dedicated staff at the Wellington office.

Ngā mihi

Kathryn Hagen