Delegates training 2017 could be summed up with several key words: bad weather, mud, dislocated shoulders, delicious food/wine and MECA discussions.

Training started for us on Wednesday 29th of March in Gisborne, waking up at some crazy hour to catch the first flight to Auckland. Thanks to some wild weather around the country, formal training started a little late, with a few less delegates than planned. First up was a brief discussion on the players in health; the numerous and varied organisations and the confusing plethora of acronyms used to describe them.

Second was a lecture by the esteemed Dr Des Gorman on the current state of healthcare, its short-term planning and his vision for the future.  He spoke about his theory that ‘health dollars’ should be reallocated to social services, which in the long-term, would reduce the need for healthcare spending. He also raised interesting points about the numbers of medical students, RMOs, consultants and his belief that the increasing the number of service providers (doctors) will not reduce health care needs of our population and therefore, that money should be redirected into social services.

obstacle-course

In the afternoon we ventured to Matakana Action Park, where we were challenged in a range of team-building activities. First up we worked as a group in the ‘snake challenge’ and old fashioned tug of war. Following that we were subjected to 3000m of sloppy, muddy, tear-inducing fun on the assault course. Climbing over 2.5m of sheer-faced walls, flying-foxes over rivers, crawling under live electric wire and through muddy water all whilst carrying a 5kg jerry. The injury list was surprisingly small, billing only a dislocated shoulder and sprained ankle.  However the smell that permeated my clothes has never left…

We had a fantastic dinner at the associated pub, with hors d’oeuvre’s, wine and general banter, concluding the first day of conference.

On day-two we welcomed the girls from Invercargill and started with a talk from Mark Kelly, a lawyer from MPI. He spoke about legal advice, what not to do (do NOT change the notes….) and what to do (being straight up ‘surprisingly’ fixes a lot of issues). If you get yourself into a legal pickle, call them for advice before doing anything else was the take-home message.

We were then joined by Dr. Andrew Connolly for a talk on MoH training of future doctors and the community based attachments (CBA).  The most interesting point we found from this talk was the scope of what can be considered in a CBA. Almost anything outside hospital walls, including 24 hour health clinics, normal GPs, hospice and possibly outreach programs. This allows for a far larger scope of potential options for CBA and decreased pressure on the GPs to accommodate us.

In the afternoon we broke into groups to discuss the direction of the RDA work plan for 2017/2018. The main issues we want the RDA to focus on are MECA breaches, new rosters and RMO-wellbeing.

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Day-two came to an end with dinner at the in-house restaurant followed by a quiz that brought out the famous competitive nature well-known among medical professionals.

Friday morning was a slow start for many after the quiz but brought the day most of us had been waiting for – a discussion of the new MECA and how to implement it.

There were several sessions across the day including MECA interpretation, rostering workshop and relief review. This was a good opportunity for delegates to better understand the MECA and the rules agreed upon. It was also a chance for us to learn more about our rights within the MECA, discuss issues which are occurring at each DHB and ways to deal with them. It certainly made for interesting discussion!

Tony Fernando spoke in the afternoon and presented on ‘compassion for doctors’. As always, Tony’s talk was interesting and thought-provoking.

Friday night was another evening of fantastic food and drink, this time at Ascension Winery.

The official awards ceremony was also held this night with awards including ‘fairy godmother’, ‘world’s springiest shoulder’, ‘rostering chief’ and many others we can’t name (and blame on Ascension’s delicious wine) but were good fun.

Saturday morning the AGM was held with several members stepping down and new delegates stepping into executive roles. We wish them all the best for the year ahead!

Before we close off this summary, we would like to thank the RDA trust for funding the training and giving us the opportunity to attend. We had a great 4 days meeting other delegates and thoroughly enjoyed our big city escape.

– Morgan Pedersen and William Ladyman