Tasmanian Regional Committee newsletter

Welcome to the mid-year newsletter of the Tasmanian Regional Committee (TRC) for ANZCA for 2020.

2020 has been an eventful year! There have challenges but there have also been opportunities and silver linings. Our profession has responded well and has led many aspects of the local response to COVID-19 whilst maintaining high standards and ongoing patient care as much as possible. 

Like other committees, the Tasmanian Regional Committee has now meet via zoom and were honoured with ANZCA’s President and CEO attending the last regional meeting on 23 July 2020.

Our people and our committee

Dr Colin Chilvers (immediate past chair) has left the committee after years of service. Colin has contributed enormously over many years focusing on integrity and equality especially for those in rural and regional areas of Tasmania. We thank him for his tireless and dedicated service.
We also welcome Dr Sam Walker as New Fellow Representative for 2021.
If you're interested in joining the committee or contributing in other ways, please contact the chair or any member of the committee. We welcome all contributions, big or small, and are particularly keen to ensure state-wide representation and participation.


Tasmania has nearly been COVID free for more than 60 days, except for one case that was in quarantine. Public health measures have contributed enormously to this success. With resolution of the North West Regional Hospital outbreak there has been an opportunity to consolidate preparedness. Some ongoing issues remain with consistent access to PPE throughout the state, the availability of fit testing and maintenance of COVID preparedness for any possible cases or outbreaks.

Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) redevelopment

K-block is now open and fully operational. The RHH theatre complex occupies a large footprint across 4D and 4K and the move has been largely well received.  There is ongoing rectification of some identified risks including mobile phone reception; emergency bells and flowmeters.

Training and exams

2020 has been a difficult year for anaesthetic trainees due to the implications of COVID on clinical experience, training progression, and exams. We are working to develop workable solutions to the exam and training issues that allow our trainees the opportunity for exam success and training progression. There is strong local support in all centres for the trainees.

Throughout all this the trainee body has been resilient and supportive of each other. They are an impressive group who contribute strongly to our Departments, hospitals and our profession. They are well represented by the cohesive trainee committee including Dr David Sommerville-Brown, Dr Dylan Siejka, Dr Sophie Maslen, Dr Sally Perks and Dr Brigit Ikin, and led by Jana Vitesnikova who has provided leadership and advocacy for trainees on the national stage.

The "new normal"

The new COVID "normal" is settling in Tasmania with the regional committee pursuing some normal activities and priorities with CME planning re-starting, incorporating the new way of doing things.


We've restructured our approach to planning for CPD in Tasmania. The newly formed CME subcommittee welcomes Dr Jo Samuel as the CME officer. Jo was co-convenor of the ANZCA ASM 2019 in Kuala Lumpur and brings experience and common sense.

Planning has started with attention to the implications of Covid and ongoing pursuit of environmental and cultural sustainability. The CME program will focus on high quality local meetings. Dr Shirin Jamshidi is convenor of the Tasmanian ASM 2021 and Dr Sam Walker and Dr Holly Sturgess are convening the Winter Meeting. Thanks to all.

Please save the following dates in your diary so you don’t miss out:

  • The Tasmanian Annual Scientific Meeting will be held on 27 February 2021.
  • The Annual Winter Meeting that was to be held at Barnbougle in August, is now postponed to Saturday 21 August 2021.


The TRC remains actively engaged in advocacy for the Tasmanian anaesthetic community. Efforts to promote persistent pain services throughout the state are an ongoing priority.

We will lead the upcoming review into Specialist Training Program (STP) funding in the latter half of 2020. STP funding in Tasmania is hugely valuable and provides additional targeted funding for both training positions and supervision or coordination roles.

Tasmanian Anaesthetic Training Program (TATP)

The TATP selection process in underway and will interview in late August. The numbers and quality of candidates continues to impress. There have been some significant differences this year compared to previous years including record numbers of applicants, fewer positions due to the implications of COVID on training and mobility of trainees, and extensive use of extended contract opportunities due to some welcome changes in HR guidelines.

Trainee committee update

With all the unprecedented COVID-related disruptions, the start of 2020 has been a challenging time for Tasmanian trainees. However, it has been extremely positive to see everyone rise to meet this challenge and go out of their way to provide support to their colleagues.

The Trainee Day in February was a chance for trainees from around the state to meet up and participate in a fantastic event convened by Dr James Correy and Dr Bronwyn Posselt. Highlights included presentations from international and interstate guest speakers on local anaesthetic toxicity, the opioid crisis, global health and wellbeing.
Despite all the disruptions, ten Tasmanian trainees sat their exams (primary and pinal) in March, with the fantastic result of everyone being invited to a delayed viva. Good luck to all the candidates awaiting delayed vivas and those sitting exams in August.

An unexpected benefit of the COVID disruptions has been the successful adoption of online tools for teaching, viva practice and meetings, which has allowed easier collaboration and sharing of resources across the state.

Finally, it has been excellent to see trainees from around the state getting actively involved in all the COVID preparations, training and changes. The resilience, adaptability and contribution of everyone has been inspiring.

Dr Jana Vitesnikova
Chair of the Tasmanian Trainee Committee

FPM update

COVID has taken centre stage for the first half of 2020. Like all clinical areas, pain services have been majorly impacted. Social distancing measures have meant that face-to-face appointments are rare. Telehealth and phone consultations have become the norm. Streamlining of telehealth capabilities at the Persistent Pain Service has been one positive, and has resulted in improved access to the service for some geographically distant patients.  

Project ECHO, a teleconferenced educational initiative has become more pertinent as people restrict their movements. The project involves fortnightly sessions during which a de-identified patient case is discussed by a specialist multidisciplinary panel, along with a short theory presentation. Registered health care practitioners are welcome, but must register in advance. 

APS CNC and stalwart APS champion, Ms Sue Kube is retiring this year. In 2004 when Dr Chris Orlikowski took over responsibility for the APS, Sue volunteered to move from recovery to help him. With support from Dr Tom Mohler and Dr Peter Lane they developed the service we now take for granted. During those early years Chris remembers Sue demonstrating true leadership. She was extremely patient, always cheerful and polite and took every opportunity to educate everyone she came across including the anaesthetists who found themselves on an acute pain round. If there was a problem on the ward, she would invariably go back later and gently explain and teach. Over time, Sue took on a more formal teaching role. Giving the APS an educational, as well as a clinical focus, led the APS to being the force it is today. Sue’s passion, knowledge and enthusiasm will be missed. We wish her all the best and hope to build on the great foundation she has left us. 

Dr Nina Loughman
FPM Representative on the Tasmanian Regional Committee

Finally, I would like to recognise all our colleagues, both here and interstate, who continue to respond to the COVID pandemic with innovation and dedication. In particular, the TRC recognises and thanks the NWRH staff led by Associate Professor Deborah Wilson and the community of Northwest Tasmania who faced a significant outbreak with strength and resilience.

Extraordinary times. Stay safe and stay well.

Dr Lia Freestone
Chair of the Tasmanian Regional Committee


Last updated 11:37 12.08.2020