Busting myths

Thursday 1 October 2020

I am delighted to be the new Medical Director for Membership and Business (MDMB, aka Treasurer). I took over from the excellent Dr Andy Beale on 1 September and will serve for three years.

This is the first in what I intend to be a series of blogs from me to all Fellows and members.

I am a DGH radiologist in Winchester, where I have been for the last 19 years, and have served on RCR Council and on the Finance and Investment Committee, which sparked my interest in this role.

It is important to stress that while I happen to be a radiologist, mine is a cross-Faculty role – I represent the interests of both radiologists and oncologists ‘without fear or favour’.

The purpose of these blogs is to explain my role and to give an insight into the benefits of RCR membership, as well as explaining where your membership fees go.

The primary role of the MDMB is to work alongside the staff in the finance team, led by David Botha, to ensure strong financial governance, effective membership engagement and value, and governance oversight of RCR investment programmes. However, I have additional responsibilities for iRefer, our radiology referral guidelines, for the Senior Fellows’ Forum and for the International Committee.

Myth-busting

One of the first things I felt I should do is clear up some misconceptions about the RCR and its workings that I have heard over the years:

“The RCR makes a massive profit from exams”
In fact, the UK exams are broadly cost neutral and it is RCR policy that they remain so.

“The RCR is London-centric”
While the physical building is in London, the RCR holds many activities throughout the length and breadth of the country. This has been particularly true this year and, of course, our growing online activity can be accessed from anywhere.

“My fees pay for a large wine cellar at the RCR”
I wish this were true … but sadly it isn’t. Not even a small one.

“RCR Officers are out of touch with real world radiology and oncology”
All of the Officers are actively practising in trusts throughout the UK. We too struggle with workforce, equipment and other issues and want to represent the interests of all radiologists and oncologists.

COVID-19

This has been an extraordinary year in so many respects, not least for the RCR. We have had many of our functions curtailed (particularly exams and educational meetings) and have had to conduct much of our business online rather than face to face. As a result of this, the RCR has seen our income reduce by about £1.5 million this year. Thanks to some extraordinary work from too many people to mention, we have set up online exams for both radiology and oncology, shifted our annual conference online and introduced many cost-cutting measures, the combined effect of which is that we have managed to keep overall losses to about £0.5 million in 2020. We predict further losses of about £0.5 million in 2021, after which we expect the position to improve significantly.

Despite predicted losses of circa £1 million over this year and next, we have no plans to increase membership fees in real terms.

Benefits of RCR membership

I thought I knew how much the RCR does for its Fellows and members, but since taking up my new role I have been amazed at the range and value, both tangible and intangible, of its work.

The tangible benefits include: free subscription to peer-reviewed academic journals and quarterly newsletters; reduced fees for RCR meetings and events across the UK; free access to best practice guidelines and iRefer; free access to our e-learning hub and online CPD lectures; access to meeting and working facilities; and access to an online training portfolio.

Non-tangible benefits include: advising you on establishing, approving and maintaining training programmes; supporting professional standards by monitoring job descriptions and maintaining a network of specialty advisors; collecting workforce data and lobbying the UK governments on workforce issues on your behalf; proactively approaching the UK governments and independent healthcare providers on oncology and radiology issues; sending you distilled guidance from government and other organisations; advising NHS and similar organisations, the independent sector and the public; and, more generally, being out there among the professional community and more widely, promoting radiology and oncology every day.

Your membership fee gives you access to all this, and don’t forget that the fee is an allowable expense for tax purposes for those residing in the UK.

Developments

We have a number of planned developments either coming on stream now or planned for the near future. I plan to talk about some of these in more detail in subsequent blogs.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments on any aspect of the membership and business side of the RCR, I can be contacted on Julian_Elford@rcr.ac.uk

Dr Julian Elford
Medical Director, Membership and Business


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