GSA eZine - 28 June, 2021

From the President, Dr Sally Butchers FRACS

Dear Members,

In writing my first President’s message I would like to acknowledge the great work done by our outgoing President, Trevor Collinson, particularly over the last four years. Trevor led our organisation through the “unprecedented times” that were 2020, and his work with RACS President Tony Sparnon and the other Society Presidents was invaluable. Both Trevor and Sayed Hassen have now stepped down as Directors after nine years on the Board, and we thank them both for their exceptional service to GSA and our members.

On that note, I would also like to thank all the GSA staff for their dedication and hard work. The effort behind the scenes last year to keep education and training going as well as they did was remarkable. 

I am very pleased to advise that funding for a new MBS item number for Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy in Intermediate Thickness Melanoma was approved as part of the May 2021 Federal Budget. The preliminary release date for the new item number is 1 November 2021, however if anything changes or we receive further information from the Department, we will advise our members as soon as possible. On behalf of the GSA Board and our members, I extend our sincere thanks to Michael Donovan for his dedication in leading this application over the past five years, and also thank David Gyorki, Chris Allan, and Andrew Spillane for their expert advice and assistance.

We have interviewed earlier in the year for the first Post Fellowship Education & Training (PFET) Program in Rural Surgery positions, with the support of CSSANZ, ANGOSA, ANZHPBA, and BreastSurgANZ. The PFET Program in Rural Surgery is designed to allow mentorship and support by those in the metropolitan centres, and we hope to have a program that will finalise the necessary training for those wanting to work in regional and remote areas. We are also in discussions with other specialty groups to come on board with our two year program. This has been timely with the current work being undertaken by RACS on the Rural Health Equity Strategy. GSA and the Australian Board in General Surgery are involved in many of the committees and advisory groups, and we are excited to support the promotion of Rural Surgery for the improvement of patient health outcomes in these areas.

It was great to start face-to-face meetings again in Melbourne, with the RACS Annual Scientific Congress in May. Celebrating the Art of Surgery in a Time of Disruption was a great program, and the first time all nine Specialties held programs at the one meeting. The General Surgery section was convened by Mary Ann Johnson and Vinna An with presentations covering topics from robotic surgery to emergency laparotomy outcomes, and lots in between. Most of the lectures are still available on the RACS Virtual Congress, for those who missed it.

There are two more important meetings where our members will be able to get together in 2021. The first is the Provincial Surgeons of Australia (PSA) Annual Scientific Conference, to be held in Bega from 4-8 August addressing “Controversies in General Surgery”. Don’t forget that GSA funds several Rural Coach Grants for Trainees, SIMGs, and Junior Doctor members to attend this meeting.

The next meeting is 2021 GSA ASM, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency Sydney from 8-10 October, with the Trainees’ Day on 7 October - both programs covering surgical oncology and melanoma.

Please do not hesitate to contact the GSA team if you have any issues that you would like us to address and advocate for.


From the AUBiGS Chair, Mr A H Sayed-Hassen FRACS

GSET Implementation

The program is on schedule to be rolled out in 2022 and a new IT platform is currently being developed.

2021 Quinquennial Hospital Inspections – Victoria and Tasmania

The 2021 Victorian and Tasmanian Quinquennial inspections will be undertaken from 20 to 23 July 2021. 37 hospitals will be visited by seven inspection teams over three days.

2021 Selection for 2022 Intake

The selection process for 2022 intake is at interview stage under COVID-safe conditions. Virtual interviews provided for those candidates in regions where travel is not possible.


The first SEAM II module – Small Bowel – has been delivered to all current Trainees and Specialist International Medical Graduates.  The next two modules in the series – Colorectal and Breast and Endocrine – will be available by the end of the year.  In 2022, it is anticipated that the Upper GI modules will be developed.

Operating with Respect

As you are all aware the RACS is focussed on ensuring that we all have a safe working environment and that the culture of surgery is a positive experience for all.  While all face to face courses were cancelled in 2020 as a result of COVID-19, these have been reintroduced in 2021. It is very important for all Hospital Supervisors to complete the Operating with Respect F2F Course as well as the Foundation Skills for Surgical Educators. If you have not yet completed the requirements please ensure you register as soon as possible for completion in 2021.

If you are a supervisor or trainer please ensure you complete the Foundation Skills for Surgical Educators (FSSE) course and the Operating with Respect eLearning module.   Further information and course dates can be found on the RACS website


From the Trainee Rep. Dr Andrew Zammit

I hope all trainees have enjoyed their first rotation in training this year. It appears that this year will be another year of training with interruptions due to COVID; however, with the ramping up of vaccinations across the country, we all certainly hope that restrictions are able to be safely minimised over the course of the year.

This year there is the quinquennial (QQ) inspections for Victoria and Tasmania. These are an important process of accrediting each training hospital, ensuring that the training provided by Victorian and Tasmanian Hospitals meets the high standards required to produce fellows with all necessary skills required for future practice. Whilst these inspections occur every 5 years, and the inspection time at each hospital is usually only a few hours, inspectors will collate previous end of term trainee feedback about each hospital and training post. This gives inspectors as broad as possible overview of what the environment is like for training.  I must emphasise to all trainees how important it is to complete the end of term feedback reports. This feedback is vital to give hospital inspectors as broad an overview as possible of that training post, and our training can only be improved if any issues with training are advised to us as inspectors. As inspectors we also look for consistency from these reports, multiple consistent reports of issues within a hospital leads more credence to that issue, and gives us as inspectors more ability to institute changes to benefit future trainees. 

Additionally, as part of the inspection process, trainees will be given the opportunity to speak one on one with a trainee representative. It is during this session we usually find that trainees feel more comfortable to raise issues with training with one of their peers. So, if you have any concerns during about your training in your hospital, please speak up during these inspections. Our training can only be improved from the feedback we receive.

I personally am looking forward to the experience of the inspections process, and look forward to contributing in a way to improve training for all trainees. I look forward to meeting several of you when I visit Victoria in July. As a Queenslander, I however am not looking forward to the colder weather that awaits the inspecting team!

Congratulations to all of the recent exam candidates. At the time of writing, results are yet to be released. I wish all of you the best, and good luck to those sitting in the second sitting later this year.

As always, if any trainee has any troubles or concerns about their training I am more than happy to be contacted.

Reminder 2021 GSA Membership Subscriptions

Subscriptions for 2021 GSA Membership (1 January - 31 December) were issued to all financial members on 1 June, direct from our MYOB finance software. If you did not receive an email copy of your subscription notice, please contact our Finance Team via who will be able to assist.

Subscriptions are due by 30 June 2021. 

The strength of the GSA membership was particularly evident during the challenges presented in 2020. Your support allows us to continue advocating for all members, and to provide a strong voice for General Surgery.

Rural Coach Grants

General Surgeons Australia in conjunction with the RACS Rural Coach Program, is pleased to offer a number of Rural Surgery Grants to eligible applicants who are interested in a career in Rural Surgery. 

The Grants

  • Each grant is valued at up to $660 (inc. GST)
  • Each grant is to be used towards registration for the PSA 2021 ASC (in person or virtual)


If you are one of the following, we encourage you to apply:

  • General Surgery Trainees
  • General Surgery SIMGs
  • Junior Doctors who are members of GSA

To Apply

You must complete an online PSA 2021 ASC registration including payment before submitting an application. Successful recipients will have their grant applied retrospectively following the Conference. Click here for further details.

Surgical Positions Vacant

  • General Surgery Fellow
    Launceston General Hospital
  • Registrar - General Surgical
    Royal Hobart Hospital
  • Senior Staff Specialist, Staff Specialist, Senior Medical Officer, General Physician with Special Interest (Breast Health)
    BreastScreen Queensland, Bundaberg Hospital
  • General Surgery Fellow
    Townsville University Hospital

Please log in to the GSA Members' area to view full details in the Job Bank.

For details on General Surgery Fellow Positions in Australia and overseas, please click here.

Public consultation open

Potential refinements to the new regulatory framework for personalised medical devices

Regulatory changes introducing a new framework for the regulation of personalised medical devices commenced on 25 February 2021, including a transition period for eligible manufacturers and sponsors until 1 November 2024.

The TGA is now seeking feedback through a public consultation process on potential options for refining the framework that will ensure risks associated with the production and supply of personalised medical devices are appropriately mitigated, without imposing unnecessary administrative and regulatory burden.

The consultation closes at 11:59pm on Wednesday 14 July 2021.

GSA members are encouraged to provide feedback on the proposed options for refining the framework. Information about the consultation, including information about how to submit a response, is available on the TGA website.

For your diary

PSA 2021 ASC

Recent Advances & Controversies in General Surgery
5-7 August 2021
Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre, New South Wales

Registration now open.

2021 GSA ASM - Surgical Oncology

Trainees' Day - 07 October
ASM - 8-10 October 
Hyatt Regency Sydney

Registration now open.