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College partnership to drive women’s GP visits


Morgan Liotta


12/08/2022 1:17:21 PM

Women’s health checks are playing catch up, and the RACGP is hoping to boost GP visits and screening via an ongoing collaboration.

Female patient with female GP
The college’s partnership with Jean Hailes aims to strengthen support for women’s health and GPs providing that care.

Despite the fact that females continue to visit their GP more often than males (87.2% compared to 77.4%), the pandemic has led to a decrease in health service usage in general.
 
Patients more likely to have delayed or not used health services when needed due to COVID-19 were generally younger, female or those with a long-term health condition. In fact, females are nearly twice as likely to delay or not visit their GP when needed than males (12.5% versus 6.8%).
 
Noting the recent ‘concerning drop’ in screening rates for routine health checks among women, the RACGP’s ongoing partnership with women’s health organisation Jean Hailes is aiming to raise awareness of the importance of regular GP visits.
 
As part of this effort, the partnership is presenting a webinar series in the lead up to Women’s Health Week (5–11 September), focusing on various topics related to women’s health.
 
RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price told newsGP the webinars are a good opportunity for GPs to upskill and support all women to prioritise their health and wellbeing.
 
‘This Women’s Health Week, I encourage all GPs to connect with their female patients and ensure routine health checks are up to date,’ she said.
 
‘With the pandemic-related decrease in women’s health checks, it is now more important than ever to get screening rates back on track. This includes everything from BreastScreen to heart health care, mental health assessments and osteoporosis prevention, as well as promoting the updated self-collection process for cervical cancer screening.’
 
National cancer screening is steadily getting back on track, after participation in BreastScreen Australia and the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) lagged, particularly early in the pandemic.
 
The 1 July expansion of cervical screening processes to enable self-collection is also hoped to significantly increase screening rates.
 
Professor Marion Saville, Executive Director at the Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer, is presenting the second webinar in the series, on updates to Australia’s screening programs.
 
She told newsGP that attending GPs can expect to understand all updates to the NCSP clinical guidelines, including the self-collection policy, and barriers that may exist.
 
‘[GPs will also be guided to] help patients make an informed choice about their screening tests,’ Professor Saville said.
 
‘Anyone eligible for a routine cervical screening can [now] choose to screen using either a clinician-collected sample taken using a speculum or a self-collected vaginal sample.
 
‘Eligible Australians who are reluctant to participate in the NCSP need access to culturally safe, psychologically sensitive screening services. 
 
‘This can be complex, as people identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, those living in rural and remote locations, those living with disability and people from the LGBTIQ+ community or culturally and linguistically diverse communities face barriers to screening that require a considered response from their healthcare providers.’
 
In addition to the webinar series, Jean Hailes has compiled a shortlist of health resources for GPs, which reflect the five daily topics of the week: menopause, health checks, pelvic health, mind health and physical activity. The resources include translated fact sheets and multilingual presentations.
 
A 2021 newsGP poll suggests that mental health issues are the most common reason for women to see their GP – further highlighting the importance of holistic care.
 
‘GPs are there to not only manage regular screening and management of health conditions, but to build ongoing trust and rapport with their patients,’ Professor Price said.
 
‘The RACGP’s partnership with Jean Hailes, including the webinars, will help to support GPs in delivering best practice care and strengthening that trust.’
 
Dates and registrations for the Women’s Health Week webinars:
 

 
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