Patients to honour ‘most outstanding’ GP

Morgan Liotta

7/06/2022 4:34:30 PM

The Australian Patients Association is calling for nominations to recognise the nation’s best GP as part of its annual awards.

‘A good doctor understands responsibility better than privilege,’ according to the most outstanding GP of 2021.
‘A good doctor understands responsibility better than privilege,’ according to the most outstanding GP of 2021.

What makes an outstanding GP?
Communication and bedside manner, according to Stephen Mason, CEO of the Australian Patients Association (APA).
‘We’ve done many surveys of doctors, not just in in practices, but in emergency departments and elsewhere,’ he told newsGP.
‘[And the results show that] communication is number one; treating the patient with respect. Listening to that patient, not talking down to them, not feeling superior, as well as having empathy.
‘When the patient really feels the doctor cares it does make a big difference.’
It is these traits that are recognised when selecting the recipient of the APA 2022 ‘Most Outstanding General Practitioner’ award, for which nominations are now open.
Although he acknowledges that ‘most doctors’ have these traits, Mr Mason stresses how important they are.
‘You’d think it would be the outcomes, the diagnostic skills, the clinical skills – and I’m sure that’s how their peers judge them on how good they are at the craft,’ he said.
‘But with patients it’s all about communication and bedside manner.’
New South Wales GP Dr Arshad Merchant is the 2021 recipient of the Most Outstanding General Practitioner award.
He told newsGP he felt honoured and valued by the recognition.
‘The [APA] award is a highly prestigious award where you are nominated by a patient and judged by a panel of experts,’ Dr Merchant said.
‘I am grateful to all my patients for their support and trust they have put in me.’
After completing specialist general practice training at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital in London in 2009, Dr Merchant was as a GP in the UK until 2012 when he moved to Australia, where he continued his work.
‘I enjoy learning from my patients, working with them, caring for them is an awesome responsibility and a great privilege,’ he said.
‘I strive to challenge myself to grow and improve at every opportunity so that I can provide the best for my patients.’
For Dr Merchant, an ‘outstanding GP’ continues to give back to the community while strengthening the therapeutic relationship.
‘GPs are always the central part of any health system and our journey with our clients is from cradle to grave,’ he said.
Dr Arshad Merchant accepting his 2021 award with RACGP President Professor Karen Price.
‘The current COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns has made our relationship with our patients even stronger. GPs are one of the most important medical professionals – and certainly primary care professionals – whom patients have a relationship with.
‘They are really key to the health system … so it’s important they are actually recognised for the role that they play, and ultimately the patients they care for.
‘A good doctor understands responsibility better than privilege and practice accountability better than business.’
The winner of the APA Most Outstanding General Practitioner award is flown to a five-star hotel in Melbourne for the ceremony and presented a certificate by RACGP President, Adjunct Professor Karen Price, with a photographer taking photos on the night for recipients to choose from.
Mr Mason said the award winners are generally ‘tickled pink.’
‘All the winners have been very humble people and overwhelmed to have the recognition from their patients,’ he said.
‘Really, these are all the top players who’ve gone the extra yard. They’ve done things that really weren’t expected of them.’
Nominations for the 2022 APA Awards close on 30 June, with the fifth annual awards ceremony to be held on 18 August at Sofitel Melbourne on Collins. Further information is available on the APA website.
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