The defining moments of general practice in 2017

Bastian Seidel

14/12/2017 12:07:51 PM

As the end of another year approaches, we should consider the progress and success our profession has experienced over the past 12 months.

The #GPin2017 countdown can be followed via the @RACGP twitter account.
The #GPin2017 countdown can be followed via the @RACGP twitter account.

The RACGP has come a long way since its foundation almost 60 years ago and I believe this has never been more evident than when reflecting upon the milestones and moments that have made up 2017.
More people than ever are aware that the RACGP is the largest medical organisation in the country, and the representative body and voice for general practice. We have made serious impact in 2017; we have momentum; and we have a very influential voice.
Much like the broad scope of everyday practice, 2017 has been a multi-faceted year and I encourage all GPs to ponder what a year it has been. Consider the issues our collective voice ensured were clearly heard by the media, politicians and the Australian people:

  • the Medicare freeze
  • immunisations
  • flu vaccinations
  • medicinal cannabis
  • closing the gap
  • after-hours patient care
  • the Australian General Practice Training program
  • codeine up-scheduling
  • mandatory reporting
  • marriage equality
  • voluntary assisted dying.
The good GP, as they say, never stops learning, and an important source of that learning is found in reflection – what were our individual and shared experiences as GPs and as an academic medical college this year?
In light of reflection and the festive spirit, the RACGP is taking 25 days of December to re-live a selection of the most defining moments of general practice in 2017. I invite you to join the countdown of some of the moments that have shaped our profession throughout the past year by following the @RACGP twitter account and the hashtag #GPin2017.
The list so far:
  1. ‘Funding for GP visits is a guaranteed money-saver’ op-ed piece in The Australian
The RACGP’s first national news coverage for 2017 called upon Australian political leaders to enable GPs to practise quality healthcare and extend its scope to meet the needs of their patients. The piece highlighted why accessible general practice visits must be a priority for all sides of politics.
  1. A voice in Canberra
The RACGP’s Canberra office was officially opened at a Press Club event in March, highlighting general practice as essential to ‘advance Australia fair’. Attended by Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King, MP for Dennison Andrew Wilkie, and Senator for NSW ALP Deborah O’Neill, as well as members of the RACGP Council and many important health stakeholders and GPs, the opening marked an important milestone in amplifying the RACGP’s national and international recognition.
  1. Launch of the inaugural General Practice: Health of the nation 2017 report
The RACGP’s benchmark report, General practice: Health of the nation 2017, was released in September and identified a number of key insights into Australia’s health landscape. It provided the first comprehensive snapshot of general practice in Australia, calling for increased support for the profession, GPs and their patients.
  1. RACGP to manage selection of candidates into the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program
At the start of the year, the RACGP announced it would take on responsibility for selection of AGPT candidates, ensuring highly skilled registrar candidates are granted entry to general practice training. In addition, while speaking at GP17 in October Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the RACGP would resume responsibility for the delivery of training, placing the future of general practice training into the hands of the profession.
  1. Rescheduling of over-the-counter codeine products will save lives
Following the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) December 2016 decision to up-schedule codeine, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia began lobbying to protect codeine sales, while the RACGP and Australian Medical Association (AMA) appealed to health ministers to put the safety of patients first. The RACGP advocated strongly on behalf of GPs throughout 2017 for all political decisions regarding codeine to evidence-based.
  1. RACGP members contribute to World Family Doctor Day
The RACGP joined a number of global organisations in celebrating World Family Doctor Day to recognise GPs’ important role in mental health care. GPs took to social media to share statistics on depression, using the hashtags #LetsTalk and #WFDD2017.
  1. Federal budget includes partial lift of the Medicare rebate freeze
The RACGP commended the partial lifting of the Medicare rebate freeze when the federal budget was released in May, and Australia took a step toward reinvesting in preventive health.
  1. Female members outnumber male colleagues for the first time in RACGP history
National news coverage helped celebrate women in general practice, highlighting the environment the RACGP strives to create to support all GPs.
  1. RACGP supports appointment of first National Rural Health Commissioner
In June, the RACGP welcomed the decision to establish the role of the National Rural Health Commissioner as part of improving the health of people living in regional and rural Australia and developing of an equitable funding model to support rural patients and address social determinants of health.
  1. RACGP introduces Growing Strong Award
This year saw the RACGP establish a Growing Strong Award to support Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander general practice registrars during the early stages of their career. Dr Josie Guyer received the inaugural award at GP17.
  1. Diabetes handbook
The RACGP’s General practice management of type 2 diabetes 2016–18 was a vital resource for GPs in 2017, becoming the college’s second most accessed resource.
  1. RACGP supports marriage equality
The RACGP released a formal marriage equality position statement in October, recognising the polarisation of communities and significant distress that a public vote on marriage equality caused LGBTIQ RACGP members and patients.
  1. shareGP celebrates its first anniversary
shareGP celebrated its first birthday in September. Since its launch, the RACGP’s professional collaboration space has seen more than 16,000 members log in and contribute to more than 3000 conversations related to general practice.
  1. New osteoporosis clinical guidelines
The RACGP and Osteoporosis Australia released Osteoporosis prevention, diagnosis and management in postmenopausal women and men over 50 years of age in March. The new guidelines armed GPs with timely expert guidance to better detect, diagnose, and manage patients with osteoporosis.
Follow the remainder of the #GPin2017 countdown via the RACGP twitter account.

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David Browne, Drummoyne GP   15/12/2017 6:25:21 PM

Good Year, I saw some of the events. PHNs are not doing a good job. They add bureaucracy but not value to my efforts for my practice and my profession.

Dr Charlene Kembo   16/12/2017 8:03:06 PM

What a year indeed! Hats off to RACGP for the continued dedication to both the patients and the doctors who treat them. The advocacy role played is greatly appreciated. Looking forward to a fulfilling and productive 2018.

Dennis Gration, Tecoma GP   19/12/2017 6:12:18 PM

Credit where due, but not this year. We are well behind on all financial goals, Our practice costs include electricity, rates, insurance, postage non of which is reflected in advocacy achievements. Unbelievably hard working staff have no pool of funds whereby they get paid commensurate with the increasing challenges and demands. Health Care homes is not what RACGP advocated for but represent a phenomenally major change to Medicare that the community knows nothing about, Report on the PHN's by RACGP give acceptance and breating space for PHN's where it is not deserved or warranted. Remember Divisions came out of GP money, Medicare Locals took the money and PHN scooped the pool with vast sums being spent changing programs such as mental health mostly directed away from General Practice. Changes to PIP and SIP with extensive payments lost. Massive epistle from RACGP regarding IT management and security whilst Government , PHN's, pathology and pharmacies are creating so many holes in our data security that patient privacy is no longer a realistic possibility. RACGP has absolutely no capacity in reducing the red tape burden which is being added to everyday. A year when common medications were in short supply and GP's being called upon to find alternatives raising concerns about security of supply that TGA and Medicare take no responsibility for. The greatest event of the year was the rejection of the Boards proposal for RACGP constitutional change leaving the Board without the confidence of the Membership.