New places in Council will ensure that anaesthetists at all stages of their career are fully involved with and represented by the RCoA  

Published: 14/07/2022 | Author: Dr Sarah Muldoon

The annual process for elections to RCoA Council will soon open.  

My term on Council as representative of Anaesthetists in Training comes to an end in March 2023 – this means my seat will be up for election this autumn for an Anaesthetist in Training to take my place.  

However, this is a particularly exciting year to get involved in trainee representation at a national level – two additional seats for Anaesthetists or Fellows in Training are being created on Council, paving the way for the long-term increase in the number of AiTs/FiTs elected to represent this key group of RCoA members.  

Over the past 12 months, the Council and Board of Trustees of the RCoA have been in discussion with trainee representatives from the Anaesthetists in Training Committee and Anaesthetists in Training Representative Group about meaningfully increasing the representation of RCoA members in training at the highest levels of the College.  

Currently, Anaesthetists in Training and Fellows in Training comprise 27% of the College membership but only have 2 of 24 elected seats on Council. As training is integral to so much of the work of the RCoA, these two representatives have an extremely busy role, which takes up an average of 8 hours per week.  

At the moment, to be eligible to stand for election to Council, an AiT must be in possession of the full FRCA examination at the point of application. This tends to mean more senior trainees stand for the role. The term limit for an AiT on Council is four years, with an expectation that those who’ve been given the privilege of the position by the votes of their peers complete the full term. This often means that during their term, the AiT Council representatives become consultants.  There are advantages to having recent experience of the entire training program when serving in this role, and there are benefits in continuity in completing the role past CCT, but if there are only two trainee representatives, both relatively senior, who may CCT within quick succession of each other, understandably anaesthetists in training may feel the status quo does not offer them adequate representation.  

In February 2022, Board of Trustees voted in favour of a motion to increase the number of elected seats on Council for AiTs to four and tasked the Anaesthetist in Training Committee with planning how best to fill these seats so that not only are the AiT community better represented in terms of numbers, but that the seats are accessible to as many AiT members as possible, delivering more inclusive representation.  

We discussed the following ideas;  

  • Removing the need to have fully completed the FRCA, potentially dropping the requirement to hold any part of the Primary or Final entirely.  

  • Reviewing the length of time an AiT representative remains on Council after taking up a Consultant post.  

  • Whether the current college membership categories are inclusive enough for all those who could appropriately stand or vote for an AiT position on Council are eligible to do so.  

Progressing the AiT Committee’s proposals hit a road bump when the College did not secure a sufficient majority at February’s Extraordinary General Meeting to pass a package of changes to the RCoA’s governance. This has made it significantly more difficult for us to amend the various rules needed to elect additional people from a wider pool of the AiT membership onto Council.  

However, we did not want this to delay what anaesthetists in training deserve – a timely increase in their representation at the highest levels of the College, and we have been supported by the President’s office in finding a solution to bridge the gap between what we have now and what we want in the near future.  

Consequently, three seats on Council will be advertised to anaesthetists in training this summer.  

The first seat is the one to replace me, and this will be done under the “old” rules. Anaesthetists in training who have completed the full FRCA exam will be eligible to self-nominate from August, elections will be held, and results announced in December, and they will take up that seat in March 2023.  

Two additional seats will be advertised for co-opted AiT/Fellows in Training (FiT) members of council – there will be slight differences in how these posts compare to the fully elected AiT /FiT Council Members. Notably, like other co-opted members, they won’t be able to cast a vote on procedural matters, but they will be fully involved in all Council discussions, and will take part in the work of other College Boards and Committees in the same way as the fully elected Council AiT/FiT reps. A national election will still be held so that all Anaesthetists in Training and Fellows in Training can vote for who fills these two new posts. The only eligibility criteria to stand for a post, or vote in the election, will be to hold current Anaesthetist in Training or Fellow in Training membership with the RCoA.   

The posts will be 18 months in length – commencing September 2022 and ending March 2023. In this time, the College hopes with the assistance of the whole membership to have resolved the current governance issues so that all 4 AiT places on Council can be fully elected.   

While this is not the ideal, permanent solution we would like to see, we hope that creating these two roles open to all anaesthetists in training we will enable both the college and its members to find the best way of ensuring that anaesthetists at all stages of their career are fully involved with and represented by the RCoA. 

Dr Sarah Muldoon, RCoA Council