‘Focused on the needs and wants of members’: Q&A with Dr Matthew Miles

Paul Hayes

3/08/2020 2:12:27 PM

newsGP speaks with the new RACGP CEO about his plans for the college and the fundamental role GPs play in Australian healthcare.

Dr Matthew Miles
‘The next couple of years will be absolutely laser-focused on the needs and wants of the members,’ the new CEO said of his plans for the RACGP.

Dr Matthew Miles officially began his role as RACGP CEO on Monday 3 August.
A former recipient of the coveted Harvard Club of Australia not-for-profit (NFP) fellowship, Dr Miles possesses a mix of health, research and clinical knowledge.
He spoke with newsGP about his plans for the RACGP and the vital role GPs play in Australian healthcare.
Can you tell us about your 100-day plan as the new CEO?
Part of the normal CEO process is to really hit the ground running and deliver a 100-day plan.
For the RACGP, the items on there are to finalise the strategic plan, to really nail the business plan – the action plan of the tactics that we’ll be doing to implement that strategic plan –  and looking at the organisational structure of the RACGP to make sure that’s fit for purpose and aligned to the strategy.
We’re also really looking at the culture of the organisation and how we’re going to continually develop that to become a very, very member-centric organisation; so 100% directed towards member-centricity and putting the GP member at the heart of the organisation.
There’s a lot of discussion in the strategic plan around government relations; for example, excellence in advocacy. So that’s making sure we’ve got the right structures and the right people to be able to deliver on that – including myself, of course – so we can really start to work for our GPs and work to deliver some real outcomes for them, particularly in the next 3–6 months while things are changing so quickly.
Why is this type of plan important to the RACGP?
I think the key thing about a strategic plan is for it to set you on a particular path and to give credence to the path you’re going to go down. That’s always important for any organisation, and the RACGP in particular for a number of reasons.
One is just the sheer size of the college – the plan helps everyone know the direction that we’re heading.
Secondly, there’s constitutional board changes that will happen, so it’s important that we keep on that path. So the strategic plan, I think, carries even greater importance when it comes to the college.
And lastly, the plan really helps you try and work out the things that you’re not going to do. A strategic plan can be very, very important for that – making sure that we’re all on message, that we’re all in agreement about the direction we’re going to go, and that lends itself to priority-setting.
We’re all ensuring we’re doing everything to implement those strategic goals that the Board has set.
As someone new to the RACGP, what do you see as some of the college’s real strengths?
Recently there has been some absolutely stunning government advocacy and relations wins and outcomes for all Australians, but particularly for our GPs, around telehealth, PPE, Medicare rebates and so forth. That’s been a great example of positive and outcome-focused government relations.
And at the moment GPs are really in that frontline hero space, where their role is a lot more clear, I believe, than it’s ever been. So when you’ve got things like natural disasters such as bushfires or a pandemic, the role of the GP has never been as clear as what it is now. The frontline nature of being a GP is front and centre at the moment.
Some of the other strengths of the college are its diversity and its complexity. Some people view complexity as a bit of a problem – how can we ever get to the heart of the issue when things are so complex and so difficult to understand? – but I would argue that the complexity is part of that strength, because that provides tentacles into different areas.
With the faculties and other groups, we’ve got great exposure into different state-by-state issues. So I believe that complexity is one of the great strengths of the RACGP.
What about some areas for improvement for the RACGP?
We have already touched on that area of member-centricity; just to make sure that we’re all always reminding ourselves why we exist.
Though we’ve had some great success with government relations over the last 3–6 months, I do think there’s room to even step that up a couple of gears to really start to be able to have good relations at all parts of government, all stages of government with all different parties. I think that’s very important.
Any particular areas in terms of government relations?
At the moment, I think there’s a couple of big items. Some of the discussions that I’ve been involved with in terms of CPD, and that system that might eventuate for the future. It appears to me to be a big unknown.
And we need to make sure that there’s much greater clarity on exactly what’s going to happen with CPD for the future for our GPs.
That’s a big issue. And as I speak with the Department more and we start to get stronger into the issues, I’m actually less and less clear on what will actually happen at that time. So I think that’s really important.
And obviously, the Fellowship training, the college taking back certain parts of the Fellowship pathway. That’s another area where we need to be very, very clear and have good government relations and make sure that’s a seamless transition.
Of course, also Medicare rebates and making sure that GPs are properly renumerated for the work that they do. And that includes telehealth at the moment. That’s really critically important.
As the world of a GP becomes more complex, as the complexity of health issues becomes more challenging to both monitor and treat in a short consultation, I think it’s important that that complexity comes into our government relations so we can support GPs through maybe getting Medicare rebates for longer consultation, for example.
The world is becoming more complex and GPs in the firing line for a a lot of these issues.
Lastly, when looking at what we can enhance, there’s always a need, particularly with a large organisation, for everyone to really be on board. So I think allowing the team to see my vision and what we have in our strategic plan … to give people that certainty and to bring them along on a journey.
I think that is going to be another way that the college could improve, getting everyone together on the same page, giving everyone some surety and some comfort in what is very, very challenging times and difficult times. People are naturally nervous, and I think that’s understandable.
Trying to give the staff, our greatest asset, some surety and some stability, will be another big focus of mine.
In light of what has been a difficult year so far – with the ongoing pandemic and the recent death of President Dr Harry Nespolon – do you have any messages for GP members?
The main message is that we at the RACGP are there for the members.
The next couple of years will be absolutely laser-focused on the needs and wants of the members. I want to provide that surety to the membership that we’re listening. We’re taking feedback, we’re acting on feedback, notwithstanding the fact that we can never 100% agree on everything, of course.
But any sort of suggestion or criticism of the past that the RACGP wasn’t listening to members or didn’t have the GPs’ best interests as their main focus is now completely over.
That will be an absolutely tireless focus of the Board, myself and everyone else for the next couple of years. We will work to ensure that is very clear and implemented seamlessly.
Log in below to join the conversation.

CEO chief executive RACGP

newsGP weekly poll Would the reintroduction of MBS items for GPs to trace and report on electrocardiogram (ECGs) be beneficial to patients?

newsGP weekly poll Would the reintroduction of MBS items for GPs to trace and report on electrocardiogram (ECGs) be beneficial to patients?



Login to comment

Dr F Glenn O'Leary   19/08/2020 1:48:05 PM

Is the RACGP only responsible for training of GPs ??
Who is responsible to advocating for GPs. Anyone can make a complaint against a GP at any time and they have to fend for themselves/through their indemnity insurer.
AMA has totally lost its way and the Nurses and Pharmacists have upstaged them in all facets of advocacy and public perception - the Government does not seem to mention GPs - nurses and pharmacists are at the forefront of all their communications. Help to general practices for PPE was woeful to say the least. Is the RACGP going to step out of their comfort zone and listen to GPs and advocate to them in the absence of the AMA doing anything ??