Call to action urges GPs to be ‘bold and brave’

Michelle Wisbey

28/03/2024 2:59:16 PM

As GPs @ Parliament wraps up for 2024, MPs are now urging doctors to reach out and share their stories in a bid to create practical policy solutions.

Collage of GPs meeting with politicians.
The RACGP delegation took part in more than 70 meetings with leaders in Canberra.

A groundswell of grassroots GPs is needed to create the changes most useful for frontline doctors, as MPs call on the profession to make clear what they need.
That is the next step forward following this week’s GPs @ Parliament advocacy campaign, which saw a delegation of 20 GPs from across Australia descend on Canberra.
Over the course of three days, the group’s busy schedule saw it attend more than 70 meetings and engagement events, speaking to the nation’s leaders on all political sides and sharing their firsthand experience on what needs changing.
This long list of high-level meetings included sit downs with Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler and Assistant Minister Ged Kearney, as well as Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, and Liberal Senator Anne Ruston.
Members of the delegation also met with Speaker of the House of Representatives Milton Dick and Independent New South Wales MP and former GP Dr Sophie Scamps.
They also had a meeting with the crossbench, specifically for the GPs to answer politicians’ questions about general practice, funding, workforce, and future risks.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins told newsGP she has been encouraged by the meetings and the leaders’ willingness to listen and learn about the role general practice plays in the health system.
‘This is advocacy in action. This is members representing members to get our message across about who we are as GPs, what we do, and how we do it,’ she said.
‘There’s been overwhelming feedback from our MPs about the impact of having GPs in Parliament, and their comment back to us was we need to do this more.
‘We need to be bold and brave, and remember MPs are just normal people as well and they actually really want to hear from us, they want to hear our stories, they want to hear our patients’ stories, and they want to take that message back to Parliament on our behalf.’
The delegation also attended a breakfast with the Parliamentary Friends of General Practice group, and the ‘Roundtable: Building Net Zero and Climate-Resilient General Practice’.
The RACGP went to the advocacy event with three specific items it wants funded in the upcoming May Federal Budget:

  • Basic work entitlements to reverse workforce shortages, including GP registrars being paid the same as their hospital counterparts
  • Universal annual children’s health checks for the first 2000 days
  • The establishment of a national practice-based research network
It also spread the message that the transition back to college-led training has positively impacted communities, and patients, across the country.
The RACGP’s pre-Budget Submission 2024–25 makes a number of additional funding requests, including for support to carry out longer consultations, and for those practising in regional areas.
Importantly, it says long-term health reform is key to making sustained change, rather than promises based on Budget or election cycles.
Dr Higgins hailed the advocacy campaign a success and said the opportunity for GPs to speak with politicians directly was an invaluable experience.
She is now encouraging all GPs to get in touch with their local members and share their own views on what needs to be change within their individual community.
‘MPs want to see their local GPs regularly and we need our GPs to be knocking on the doors of their local MP. We want to build our GP advocate network and empower our members to be advocates for their profession and for their patients,’ Dr Higgins said.
‘Most MPs are very knowledgeable about their own electorates and the onus is on us to make sure they have the correct information, and they want to hear it from GPs.
‘The power is actually not in the big stuff or the events, it’s actually what we do on the ground and this needs to be driven by GP advocates – we have a strong presence in Parliament now and that will continue and grow.’
GPs @ Parliament 2024 was the second event of its kind hosted by the RACGP, with hopes it will now become an annual campaign.
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Dr David William L King   29/03/2024 6:32:52 AM

"MPs call on the profession to make clear what they need". Hasn't this already happened? Aren't we members of a college, with elected representatives whose job it is to do this, and indeed they have already done this? Didn't a delegation just go to Canberra and do this? Haven't our College and AMA representatives been doing this for YEARS. And the MPs have the gall to ask for GPs to come knocking on their doors? We are too busy! We have elected representatives who are already doing this on our behalf!
However, isn't the answer obvious? There are simply not enough of us. And there won't be while GPs continue to be undervalued and underfunded.

Dr Anthony Tragarz   29/03/2024 7:21:10 AM

Matthew 15:14

A.Prof Christopher David Hogan   29/03/2024 5:55:12 PM

Dear Dr King
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance & the health literacy of the Australian population (including politicians) is woeful.
The corporate knowledge of the parliament is woeful.
Every new politician needs to be informed & reminded of the value of General Practice.
So yes this education has happened before, but it needs to continue........ indefinitely

Dr Brendan Sean Chaston   30/03/2024 8:18:11 PM

More words. No action.

Dr Megan Elisabeth Barrett   31/03/2024 12:02:09 PM

Why can’t GP consultants also get the same salary and entitlements as their specialist counterparts ? When I work as a GP in a hospital I do but I have yet to earn the equivalent as a contractor in general practice if you consider entitlements and when I have had salaried positions in community settings I have earn far less per hour than other specialists (eg at ACCHOS). Why do we accept that?

Dr Peter James Strickland   31/03/2024 6:22:54 PM

It is all very good to be brave, but what GPs need is to be courageous with their views and actions. Can we imagine a lawyer or adviser to government always having to struggle to make ends meet in so many GP practice cases. Without GPs out working for the public good under the present Medicare scheme, and which is cheap (compared to hospitals and all other professional advisers) the Federal Govt would be in strife. It has be realized since Medibank 1, and then Medicare the government has slowly throttled GP practice. A lawyer would get a minimum of $200 for a minor consultation under a similar 'Legalcare' scheme (or more) for a 10-20 min. consult. All Govts need GPs ---stop bulk-billing --that is everyone ---and until an Item 23 is $100 plus! Courage, courage, courage!

Dr Michael Sosnin   31/03/2024 10:04:35 PM

"...who we are as GPs, what we do, and how we do it"...."the establishment of a national practice-based research network"- a good place to start would be to resurrect the B.E.A.C.H. program.

Dr Maria Liezel Frick   2/04/2024 10:17:28 PM

Healthcare is becoming more specialised.
Geriatrics is a large part of general practice. These appointments are time consuming. The patient may be unwell when they present for a consultation. Not only do we make an assessment of the diagnosis , but we also have to clarify their medications. We review specialist recommendations in order to understand the issues that may be impacting on this presentation . The patient may have impaired memory. We need to deal with carers. The patient may have mobility issues taking longer to pass through the consultation.
Another obvious example is chronic diseases
The above scenario is well known to all GP’s . How can a GP deal with such complex consultation under the present fee structure.?
The time has come to create new Medicare codes for over 65 year old patients and patients with chronic diseases
Another possible solution can be to imbed geriatricians or gp ‘s with a geriatric specialty in general practice using new codes

Dr Maria Liezel Frick   2/04/2024 10:33:21 PM

Is it fair that a child with a virus attracts the same remuneration as a complex geriatric patient or a patient with chronic disease. If a gp were to complete special training in for example diabetes or geriatrics they should be allowed to claim a ‘ new item number enumerating them for these complex consult s. specialised item numbers already exist s for mental health trained gp’s
Rather than increasing the fee for existing item numbers across the board , consider a more targeted change . Medicare ‘s IT systems can easily link provider numbers. Of GPsWith special skills to these new item numbers.
The college CME Framework can be utilised to up skill GP’s

Dr John Paul Kennedy   3/04/2024 5:17:45 PM

The RACGP who are too spineless to condemn the genocide of tens of thousands in Gaza including the targeted slaughter of medical colleagues should reflect before gas-lighting the membership about the need to be "bold and brave" on any matter of significance.

Dr Irene Rosul   6/04/2024 10:29:55 AM

Gp's are extremely undervalued, disrespected in Australia! Gp's works and time are over simplified and under paid!!

Dr Divya Pande   9/04/2024 1:27:51 AM

Want to guess how to make general practice more popular to potential trainees than anaesthetics or cardiology? Burn the MBS to the ground and create a salaried workforce earning more than anaesthetists or cardiologists. Think we would still have a shortage then, hmm?