RACP lambasts critics for airing old grievances in public

By Michael Woodhead

2 Mar 2020

The board of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians says it is disappointed that critics are still using the media to air old grievances about College governance, saying these are being been addressed and it is time to move forward.

In a statement released on 26 February, the board said it regretted the publication of an article in national news media titled ‘Toxic, beset with bullying’: calls for independent probe into physician college’.

The article, which quoted long-time critics of the RACP leadership including Professor Paul Komesaroff, alleged that staff whistleblowers were being used as scapegoats to take the focus away from poor leadership at the RACP.

Professor Komesaroff was quoted as saying there was a need for an independent inquiry into the RACP governance and he had submitted whistleblower documents to the financial regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to examine the use of funds by the College.

In its response, the College board noted that it had just completed an independent governance review with an external organisation appointed in conjunction with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), with results released on the RACP website and a recommended action plan expected to be delivered this month.

“Like many of you, we are disappointed that these allegations would be raised at a time when the College is focusing on the future and implementation of governance and cultural changes,” it said.

“The matters raised in the article appear to be historical in nature, dating back a number of years. The Board does not wish to comment on these past matters, believing that its focus must be to the future.

The RACP Board said the ACNC has endorsed the findings of the review and looks forward to their implementation.

“It is time to move forward and to focus on improving the College. The Board has asked its CEO to consider how best to implement the 178 recommendations from the Effective Governance review and he will be reporting back to the Board in March with a plan to deliver the report’s recommendations.

“There is much to be done by the College for the benefit of the profession and of our communities. It is time to put aside past grievances and to commit to working together on the challenges we collectively face. Your Board is resolute in its commitment to achieving this and asks for your support.

In the media report, several senior clinicians said an outside regulator could not get to the bottom of the governance problems if past mistakes were buried.

“The reality is sometimes you need to bring things out into the open before meaningful reform and reconciliation is possible, haematologist and bioethics researcher Professor Ian Kerridge told the SMH.

“A regulator isn’t enough to do that. It needs to be the body itself standing up and saying we need a comprehensive independent review.”

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