New surgeons’ boss

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons has appointed a new CEO, Dr Stephanie Clota, the former head of GPEx, a primary care specialist training and workforce planning organisation based in SA.

Dr Clota, who started last month, faces an uphill battle with the college delivering a deficit result of $10 million in 2022, compared to a deficit of $0.6m in 2021, and an overall loss of $12.9 million compared to a surplus of $5 million in 2021.  

During her tenure at GPEx, Dr Clota spearheaded the successful delivery of the Australian General Practice Training program in SA and oversaw its transition to a college-led model in 2023, and the college is trusting her operational and stakeholder management experience will assist the transformation of RACS. 

RACS president, Associate Professor Kerin Fielding, said Dr Clota was a highly respected and experienced leader in the healthcare and training sectors. 

“Her ability to build and maintain key partnerships with government, private, and not-for-profit organisations has been instrumental in strengthening practitioner development and ensuring it meets the evolving healthcare needs of communities.” 

Despite revenue from operations increasing $8.5 million (14%) in 2022 to $61.0 million, compared to $53.5 million in 2021, according to RACS last financial report (the next of which is anticipated in March), expenditure from operations rose to $72.6 million compared to $59.3 million in 2021, an increase of $13.3 million (22%).  

“The increase was reflective of the increased income and primarily attributable to the return of any events throughout the year, as well as digital transformation initiatives under the One College Transformation program,” RACS treasurer, Dr Greg Witherow, wrote at the time. 

Negative performance returns of 2.7% from the RACS investment portfolio also added to the overall deficit – a factor also attributed to volatile markets.   

“However, sound cash income from dividends, and imputation credits within the investment portfolio of $4.8m (down from $5 million in 2021) will provide the necessary funding to support the Foundation for Surgery, while ensuring that the capital value of the portfolio is maintained long-term,” Dr Witherow said. 

“We continue to maintain a sound financial position and have access to both cash reserves and other financial assets that can be readily converted to cash to ensure it can meet its ongoing financial commitments and obligations.” 

But while Australia’s financial markets have finally returned to the same level as two years prior, with the ongoing war in Ukraine and the renewed disruption to international trade – this time with the escalation of conflict in the Middle East, factors beyond any CEO’s ability to influence – it remains to be seen whether this year’s report returns a more positive verdict.