A letter to those on the healthcare frontline

Karen Price

18/12/2020 12:15:50 PM

RACGP President Dr Karen Price thanks Australia’s GPs for their hard work and selflessness in what has been an extraordinary year.

Dr Karen Price
RACGP President Dr Karen Price has been blown away by the efforts of Australia’s GPs.

If I could choose one word to characterise the efforts of GPs in 2020, I’d go with ‘challenge’.
In a year that started with the Black Summer bushfires and has since been dominated by a deadly global pandemic, GPs have time and again positioned themselves on the frontlines for the greater good.
These challenges have come in many different forms: time, isolation from family, financial, personal health – the list goes on. But through it all I have been blown away by the positive, selfless and humble efforts you have made for the benefit of your patients, and for Australia as a whole.
While other countries are in the midst of massive outbreaks resulting in lockdowns, broken healthcare systems, and hundreds – if not thousands – dying every day, most of our country is preparing for a (relatively) normal festive season.
This would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our GPs, registrars, nurses, practice staff, and other healthcare heroes across all disciplines and specialties.
Thank you. For everything.
I know these events have come at a cost, and that we will be dealing with the mental health consequences stemming from the trauma and uncertainty our profession has had to deal with for some time to come. But I also know that the RACGP, and indeed the wider general practice and healthcare communities, are here to help.
I would also like to take the time to acknowledge the many challenges our registrars, junior doctors and medical students have had to make. The already daunting task of navigating a medical degree has been made so much tougher by the circumstances they have faced this year.
In particular, I feel compelled to apologise to those affected by the KFP and AKT failures. This was a situation totally out of their control, but one that caused untold hurt and stress.
The relentless pursuit for improvement in which the college is engaged dictates that we must identify, acknowledge and rectify mistakes. So, on behalf of the RACGP, I am sorry for what happened.
Congratulations to those who have already re-taken the exams and are awaiting their results, and best of luck to everyone taking part in future rounds.
I cannot stress this enough – do not hesitate to ask for support. That is a message not just for students and registrars, but the entire primary care community, because we are all in this together.
And please, if you can, give yourself a break. It has been one of the longest and most tumultuous years in living memory, and I know I will (hopefully) be finding the time at some stage to check out and enjoy the company of those that matter most to me.
Because, unfortunately, many of the struggles that we have faced this year are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. The ongoing effects of climate change will bring more natural disasters, Medicare rebates will remain too low (for the time being) and, even though we’re well placed at the moment, there is every chance coronavirus will return before we have successfully rolled out a vaccine.
That’s why it’s so important to recharge, reflect, and recalibrate for what lies ahead.
Whatever it is, I know we can do it. General practice has faced so many challenges, not just this year, but for decades. And yet, through it all we continue to get stronger and deliver the high-quality healthcare our patients need and deserve.
So despite not knowing the trials and tribulations 2021 will inevitably bring, if we stick together and support each other, I am confident that there is nothing we can’t overcome.
I have never been more proud to be a GP.
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