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Meeting between RACGP President and Prime Minister leads to more support for GPs


Matt Woodley


19/03/2021 6:14:57 PM

Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt have guaranteed the supply of vaccines to general practice and committed to supporting GP wellbeing following a meeting with Dr Karen Price.

Karen Price and Scott Morrison
RACGP President Dr Karen Price Met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Canberra to discuss general practice’s ongoing role in Australia’s COVID vaccination program.

GPs will be able to book patients for COVID vaccinations with certainty, following a commitment from the Federal Government to guarantee a steadily increasing supply of Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines over the next 12 weeks.
 
RACGP President Dr Karen Price told newsGP Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt acknowledged the concerns she had tabled on behalf of GPs, including those related to the national booking system, and pledged to provide general practice with the support and information it needs to successfully carry out the nationwide vaccine rollout.
 
‘They wanted to hear directly from us about what our problems were,’ she said.
 
‘Obviously, we also talked about the booking issue, that we needed that to be ready, and we needed to know about that ahead of time, and they acknowledged the stress not having advance warning  had caused.
 
‘But we are definitely going to get the vaccine supply sorted. It’s going to take a little bit of time, but we’ll have some predictability.’
 
Dr Price said certainty over the supply will be vital, as it will allow general practices to properly plan for the weeks ahead as the vaccination program ramps up, and also help ease the strain that weeks of changes and uncertainty had imparted on the GP community.
 
‘That’s really critical. If we’ve got the tools and the supply, we can do our job,’ she said.
 
‘We can book our own patients and we can go forward with more confidence. As long as we know what we’ve got to work with, then we can start delivering it.’
 
During the meeting, Minister Hunt indicated that 197,000 doses will be made available in the first week of phase 1b, which will gradually ramp up to 250,000 in week two and 325,000 in week three, before reaching 800,000–1,000,000 doses per week by the end of the 12-week block.
 
Assurances were also given regarding the provision of COVID vaccinations to protect locum GPs and those working in aged care who had have had issues accessing them during phase 1a of the rollout.
 
The toll the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent vaccine rollout has taken on GPs was also acknowledged, and the Government has reportedly agreed to consider options aimed at promoting GP wellbeing and mental health.
 
Clinical support has been made available via each state’s public health unit, and GP queries on stock ordering, deliveries and other logistics can now be made through the dedicated Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) on 1800 318 208.

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The Canberra meeting was attended by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, RACGP President Dr Karen Price and various other stakeholders.

Dr Price said the meeting was productive and shows the confidence that the highest levels of government have in GPs.
 
‘It’s still going to be challenging, no doubt about it. But the Australian Government has complete faith in our ability to vaccinate our own patients,’ she said.
 
‘And that has been a bit of a pivot, but to hear it straight from the Prime Minister’s mouth is very reassuring. I think all GPs should feel very proud of that, because they’ve recognised the patient and doctor voice.
 
‘We are the best place for vaccinations. Especially for 1b, where it’s older, frail and where it’s people with complex medical conditions.’
 
A commitment was also made for the Department of Health to provide twice-weekly fact sheets to GPs so they can have a predictable and regular flow of information. Minister Hunt has also committed to meeting with Dr Price again in two weeks in order to keep the lines of communication open, and give GPs an avenue to provide direct feedback to those in Government.
 
‘The meeting was a demonstration of their commitment to general practice, and they are going to do it again,’ Dr Price said.
 
‘They do want to hear from us. It is a pandemic and it is difficult and they acknowledge those difficulties.
 
‘But the fact that they were prepared to meet with us and hear our concerns is indicative of the regard in which they hold GPs.’

Correction: This article previously stated $5 million had been set aside to support general practice mental health and wellbeing. While there was in-principle agreement regarding the need to promote general practice mental health and wellbeing, final details are yet to be confirmed.
 
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Dr Naim Fakhry Metias Samaan   20/03/2021 9:30:21 AM

That’s great, we know the load but we are so excited to do it to safe our Australian Community. Thanks for the great and amazing jobs has been done to deliver this matter in the best way. Keep up our leaders.


Dr William James Hare   20/03/2021 12:21:33 PM

A few weeks ago, the NSW Deputy Premier asked Greg Hunt & Scott Morrison why couldn't we have just rolled out the Covid vaccines like we do with the flu vaccine-very successfully every year. Why do they try to re-invent the wheel?


Dr William James Hare   20/03/2021 12:21:52 PM

A few weeks ago, the NSW Deputy Premier asked Greg Hunt & Scott Morrison why couldn't we have just rolled out the Covid vaccines like we do with the flu vaccine-very successfully every year. Why do they try to re-invent the wheel?


A.Prof Vicki Kotsirilos, AM   20/03/2021 1:49:36 PM

Congratulations Karen and the RACGP!
Well done!


Dr Ayanthi Sonali Rodrigo Goonewardene   20/03/2021 2:12:48 PM

GP’s ARE frontline staff & we do require the PFIZER vaccine. With the emergence of virulent strains it’s a matter of time before we’re at risk of spreading it to our vulnerable patients when asymptomatic !!


Dr Deborah Jane Mills   23/03/2021 5:23:09 PM

Well done Karen!
Is there any chance you could mention that Travel Medicine Clinics - who are very experienced with all types of vaccines and have lots of capacity due to lack of international travel ....are currently not eligible for 1b as we are not ' accredited as a GP' . We want some work to do and we are good at vaccinating and have a large and loyal following of 1b eligible workers especially


Dr Deborah Jane Mills   23/03/2021 5:24:27 PM

Also agree with Dr Ayanthi ...that Frontline workers need to be given faster immunity ie Pfizer - Scott Morrison had the Pfizer vaccine - healthcare workers should too!


Dr Kalyani Muthurajah   27/03/2021 10:58:09 AM

Thank you Karen!
The twice weekly fact sheets from the department of health will be very useful to keep up to date with latest developments with the covid vaccine trials . New contraindications, side effects, efficacy etc.


Dr RSY   7/04/2021 7:43:37 AM

Dr W J Hare has flagged a very pertinent point! Why can't the Dept of Health (DoH) roll out the COVID vaccine program just like the Flu vaccine program - which runs like clockwork every year (last year there were over 12 million doses administered!).
Answer: The DoH is full of bureaucrats who have self-serving interests of building their empire within the DoH, and not the real interest of the community. Within DoH a complex mechanism has been established with umpteen public servants (all leading to SES promotions) to roll out COVID vaccine. All this setup already exists at each state - who successfully roll out the flu vaccine. There needs to be an ANAO audit on this immediately and stop this ineffective roll out. What a waste of tax payers money by DoH! The PM is trying to shift blame on the EU, but has been proven to be wrong (again) - EU has not blocked any supplies! PM and Minister of Health need to handover the COVID roll out from the DoH to State Health authorities.