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The Quarterly 2011

As 2011 comes to a close, it is a good time to reflect on the changes to The Quarterly. With the move to a fully on-line journal, we have continued to see The Quarterly mature, with a promising ongoing stream of articles on a range of medical management issues, which are now being electronically printed as they become available. The mix of international and local authors has enhanced the richness and perspective of the publication. The most popular contributions to the on-line journal have been compiled into this yearly print copy. I would be grateful for any feedback on how Fellows, Candidates and other readers find these changes and whether they are meeting their needs.

On a personal note, I have been heavily entrenched in the preparations for and the response to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which was held in Perth from 28 – 30 October 2011, along with a four day Royal visit. Having survived this process, it is useful to reflect on some of the lessons learned from a medical administrative viewpoint.

As part of the arrangements, Western Australian Department of Health was contracted to provide first aid, primary care and emergency medicine support to 3,000 delegates from 53 countries, up to 1000 media, and a further 1000 security and police personnel. While we will provide a more detailed review in due course, a few salient comments can be made to assist the fortunate, or unfortunate (depending on your perspective), health planners who have to plan for the next G20 meeting or similar.

Firstly, past health plans of such events are very useful, and we were very grateful to Queensland Health and New South Wales Health for sharing their previous CHOGM and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) plans respectively. Secondly, given the complexity of multiple levels of Government, multiple agencies and vastly different agendas, health planning will take far longer than anyone hopes or wants, so start early and involve a wide range of stakeholders. The comment about building the plane whilst in flight was made on several occasions. Thirdly, build flexibility into your plans and fight to retain it. Flexibility in our plans saved us on a number of occasions, when decisions beyond our control impacted on our proposed health delivery. Fourthly, events like CHOGM, APEC and G20 are largely security events, with the usual security caveats, which may make wider discussions with health stakeholders difficult. For example working to organise a sausage sizzle for 120,000 people with the Queen in six weeks, without letting anyone know about it, was quite challenging. Finally, maintain your sense of humour.

I still am not quite sure what the disaster management role of protocol officers is at a mass gathering, but I did appreciate being asked the question. In the end, through the work of the hospitals, both public and private; the medical teams, the health coordinating staff, and a myriad of others, from food safety inspectors to after-hours GP’s, CHOGM and the Royal Visit went off well and I am grateful to all who contributed. I am not sure who will be the lucky State to get the G20 in 2014, with four States including WA having nominated at the time of writing, but I am sure it will be similarly challenging.

Disaster Management and event health planning remain an important consideration for medical administrators and were the topic of a workshop at the recent 2011 RACMA Conference in Melbourne. As we move towards the cyclone and bushfire season, the workshop highlighted the preparations required and the responses needed to effectively manage such events from a medical administration perspective. Ability to handle such events remains an important competency for all medical administrators and video grabs, slides and notes from this session will be available in due course.

I would encourage all RACMA members and other readers to continue to submit articles to The Quarterly in their areas of expertise. These articles form a valuable resource and will continue to help the maturing of the journal. Finally, I would like to wish everybody a safe and happy Christmas season and all the best for 2012.

Dr Andrew Robertson

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