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‘A feeling of unity’: Reflections on GP22


Jolyon Attwooll


28/11/2022 5:01:32 PM

The new RACGP President looks back at a successful GP22 conference and the importance of keeping the momentum going.

Images from GP22 conference
GPs welcomed the chance to return to an in-person conference at GP22 in Melbourne. (Image: Adam Thomas)

‘I can’t think of a single session that wasn’t worthwhile.’
 
That is the verdict of GP22 Advisory Group Chair Dr Anita Muñoz, who described the three-day conference that finished on Sunday (27 November) as ‘very positive’.
 
She picked out the three plenary sessions, which included insights into the Danish model of general practice, the social and commercial determinants of health, and a look at what the future role of GPs might bring, as a particular success.
 
‘We put a lot of effort into structuring that so it would deliver a narrative about the power of generalism, and how vital general practice is to a functioning and sustainable health system,’ Dr Muñoz told newsGP.
 
‘There were members who were pleased to see us addressing the systemic issues and celebrating the role of our profession in the health system.’
 
Conferences like GP22 are also ‘a fabulous way’ for GPs to maintain their medical education, she said.
 
‘If somebody wants an update on asthma, or if somebody’s keen to delve a bit deeper into dementia or women’s dermatology, there’s so many things to look at in the program,’ Dr Muñoz said.
 
It was the first time the event has been held face-to-face since 2019, and the GP22 Advisory Group Chair said being around friends and colleagues for the first time in three years was another highlight.
 
It was a sentiment echoed by Dr Nicole Higgins, who was confirmed as the new RACGP President at the 65th Annual General Meeting, held on the eve of the conference.
 
‘It was a welcome opportunity to gather face-to-face, and reconnect with fellow Australians GPs,’ Dr Higgins told newsGP.
 
‘There was a lot of excitement.’
 
Dr Higgins made her inaugural speech as president at the conference on Friday, and said she wants to convey a positive message about the future of general practice, despite the challenges.
 
‘It was a call to arms for my colleagues to be part of the solution,’ she said.
 
Dr Higgins in particular set out her determination to ensure that the college is heard by politicians, and encourages GPs to be involved.
 
She said on a recent trip to Canberra she had noticed gaps in politicians’ knowledge about general practice and identifies educating legislators about the role of GPs as a key part of the role.
 
‘We need to change our narrative,’ Dr Higgins said.
 
‘They’re making decisions on our behalf without understanding how general practice works, how the health system works, and how we can be the solution to it.
 
‘I will be spending more time in Canberra, making sure that RACGP gets a seat at every table, and that this is a truly national RACGP.’
 
The incoming RACGP President, who paid tributed to the ‘amazing leadership’ of her predecessor Adjunct Professor Karen Price, also cited the GP22 plenary sessions as a particular highlight.

‘Denmark has one of the best health systems in the world with the greatest level of satisfaction, and it was an opportunity for us to be able to learn how that works,’ Dr Higgins said.
 
During the course of the event, the RACGP released a White Paper with recommendations on general practice reform stemming from the General Practice Crisis Summit, including a push for increasing Medicare rebates by 20%, as well as reducing red tape.
 
It also set out the case for the tripling of the bulk-billing incentive, the indexing of Medicare rebates and general practice payments by an independent body, junior doctor placements in general practice, as well as for an overarching data strategy.
 
Dr Higgins is keen to keep the positive momentum going beyond GP22 and reports encouraging feedback from the GPs who were there.
 
‘People came out with a feeling of hope, a feeling of unity,’ she said.
 
Meanwhile, Dr Muñoz is encouraging GPs to sign up to WONCA 2023, which will be held in Sydney in October next year.
 
‘We expect that event is going to be very exciting, and because of the international association it will have even more dimensions for us to enjoy,’ she said.
 
GP22 digital pass holders will be able to view recordings from sessions in the coming weeks, which will be flagged on newsGP when they become available.
 
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A.Prof Christopher David Hogan   2/12/2022 9:19:39 PM

Yes there was unity- at long last.
There is a saying- united , we stand; divided- we don’t.