President’s Annual Report 2023
Ngā mihi nui kia koutou katoa,
As I reflect on the Society’s past year, I first wish to thank all members for continuing to provide the best care possible for our patients across the motu. The adverse challenges faced by our healthcare workforce, on top of some significant environmental events early in 2023, have made this a demanding year. The Society is here to support you.
It is pleasing to see our membership numbers continue to grow. The NZSA now represents over 800 anaesthetists and SPMPs across various levels of their careers. A warm welcome to the 45 new members who have joined us this year, and our gratitude to all returning members for your ongoing support. The Executive Committee values connecting with members at the many events held throughout the year and during our regional visits. We are grateful to the anaesthesia departments in Hawke’s Bay, Nelson, Waikato, and Rotorua for hosting members of the Executive Committee this year. These have allowed us to understand further the challenges you are facing in your areas and how best we can continue to serve you.
This report briefly summarises the year that has been across our three pillars: Advocacy, Community and Education. There is always more, and I encourage you to remain connected through the NZSA’s channels, including the magazine, monthly e-zine, website, and social media accounts.
Together, we are a strong collective voice for our specialty.
The year began with the NZSA and ANZCA NZ Council jointly meeting with the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Ayesha Verrall. During our meeting, we discussed pertinent issues affecting our profession. A summary of this can be found on the NZSA website.
Ensuring anaesthesia representation during the health reforms is a crucial issue of focus for the NZSA. We held meetings with Te Whatu Ora and facilitated representation on groups overseeing the future of Planned Care at a national level, in addition to discussing recommendations towards the National Clinical Networks. Monitoring requests for memberships to these interdisciplinary networks ensures our specialty is represented in developing national standards, improving equitable services, and building workable solutions.
As expected, whilst the health reforms take shape, the NZSA has responded to several key consultations across the year. These have included the National Women’s Health Strategy and Te Mauri o Rongo The Health Charter, Health Workforce Plan. It is pleasing to see the focus on equitable care and, in the Charter, an emphasis on valuing the health workforce at a strategic level. We hope the intentions of the Charter are effectively implemented and become a living part of the culture of our health system.
During the year, the Society participated in several of ANZCA’s stakeholder reviews. This included the (PG09) Guideline on procedural sedation, for which the Society co-wrote a letter with Endoscopy Guidance Group New Zealand with our concern that some of the new requirements would significantly impact the care we can provide here in Aotearoa.
Copies of all submissions are available on the NZSA website.
We are privileged to have such high-quality anaesthetic assistants here in Aotearoa. As Anaesthetists, we play a crucial role in supporting this workforce and addressing the current Anaesthetic Technician (AT) workforce shortage, which will require widespread strategic and cultural change. Several discussions have been held throughout the year, working towards short and long-term solutions. These have included hui with stakeholder groups and those building national clinical placement pathways, as well as representation in the Anaesthetic Technician Tactical Group, whose focus is recruiting and retaining the AT workforce. The NZSA also participated in the Medical Sciences Council’s consultation on their proposed changes to the Anaesthetic Technician scope of practice.
Regular meetings are held with ACC and Southern Cross. The feedback received from the Private Practice survey completed late in 2022 was valuable in further informing these discussions. Thank you to those who completed this.
The work of the subcommittees and networks continues to provide an important service to the anaesthesia community and optimal outcomes for our patients. They are an invaluable part of the NZSA’s support to members. We have seen a few changes in Network Chairs this past year. Our thanks to outgoing and former Chairs: Dr Paul Baker (Airways), Dr Rob Burrell (Environment and Sustainability), Dr Matt Drake (NOA), and Dr Allanah Scott (PANNZ).
The Global Health Committee (GHC) continues to guide the NZSA’s connection with our colleagues in the Pacific. Their work facilitating locum cover enabled local Anaesthetists to attend the annual Pacific Society of Anaesthetists (PSA) meeting in Fiji. Thank you to those who were able to assist. Also, through the GHC, the NZSA has agreed to sponsor two Pacific Anaesthetists to attend the WFSA’s World Congress in 2024. PACT fellow Dr Cecilia Vaai-Bartley has been awarded one of these scholarships. The other is being administered through the WFSA’s scholarship programme. Through its donors and the Seelye Trust, the PACT initiative continues to aid training for anaesthetists within the Pacific region, currently supporting four PACT Fellows.
Nurturing our broader international community relationships, the Executive Committee have been fortunate to hear regular updates from WFSA President, Associate Professor Wayne Morris, keeping us connected with the work of the WFSA. We look forward to next year’s World Congress in Singapore. In September, NZSA CEO Kylie McQuellin I and met with fellow CIG members in Edinburgh and discussed a myriad of shared topics, including workforce, membership and value propositions.
This has felt like our first year of business as usual (well, within the new normal) for educational events. As always, the annual Queenstown Update in Anaesthesia (AQUA) was a popular event and offered an informative range of updates. At the time of writing, we are approaching the Aotearoa NZ ASM. The regional organising committee have worked hard to put together a packed scientific programme full of in-depth learning alongside an excellent social programme. The 2024 Aotearoa NZ ASM will be held in Auckland, November 7-9, with a special Perioperative Symposium on the Tuesday prior.
After so many disappointing delays and cancellations, it’s been pleasing to see the Paediatric Anaesthetists Network (PANNZ) annual meeting was finally able to go ahead in Rotorua and in December, the return of the Inpatient Pain Network Meeting in Wellington.
Now in its second year, the podcast has welcomed a variety of guests who have shared their experiences volunteering abroad, provided insight into assistant to the anaesthetist training programmes, and taken us behind the scenes of the upcoming NZ ASM. Trying something new, we also welcomed podcaster and founder of The Curve, Victoria Harris, to the NZSA podcast for a kōrero on finance.
Another new initiative our Trainee Representatives ran was the ‘Career in anaesthesia’ webinar connecting SMO anaesthetists with junior doctors and medical students. Hopefully, the keen interest it received bodes well for the future of our profession.
The development of the Society’s strategic plan aligns its focus for the next four years. The NZSA has many projects on the horizon for the year ahead, including a digitised patient experience survey, patient education resources, and increasing te ao Māori resources to assist members. We will also continue to advocate for the profession through the health and disability reforms and opportunities to promote environmentally sustainable practices.
We have welcomed two new members to the Executive Committee, Dr Nathan Kershaw and Dr Hannah Middleton. Hannah joins us as a trainee representative, and Nathan oversees the digital health portfolio. Sadly, we have farewelled Dr Mike Ng, Dr Mikaela Garland, and Dr Indu Kapoor. On behalf of the NZSA Executive Committee, I thank Mike, Mikaela, and Indu for their generous and valuable contributions to the NZSA. We wish them the best in their future endeavours.
Our new CEO, Kylie McQuellin, joined the NZSA office in September. We welcome Kylie from her previous Royal College of General Practitioners role. Her substantial experience across membership engagement and leadership will be valuable in continuing to guide the NZSA in representing our members and the Aotearoa anaesthesia community during such a dynamic time in health. We are deeply grateful for the immense mahi former CEO Michele Thomas put in for the NZSA during her time with the Society. We wish her all the best in her new role with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
I want to thank my fellow Executive Committee members, the networks, organising committees and numerous members who so generously give their time to support the work of the NZSA and our anaesthesia community. Thanks also to the team in the office who ensure the day-to-day running of the Society.
The support of our members makes it possible for the NZSA to move from strength to strength and allows us to continue to advance the specialty of anesthesia and pain care to improve the health outcomes for all in Aotearoa. In whatever form you may have contributed, be it volunteering time, providing feedback, or attending an event, these interactions allow the NZSA to continue to serve our members best and promote high-quality patient care and safety.
I also wish to acknowledge the support of the many stakeholders and partnership organisations who work alongside the NZSA each year.
Ki te kotahi te kākaho, ka whati; ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati (if a reed stands alone, it can be broken; if it is in a group, it cannot). This whakataukī is attributed to Kīngi Tāwhiao (the second Māori King, 1860-1894).
I look forward to connecting with many of you at the Aotearoa NZ ASM.
Dr Morgan Edwards
President, New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists