General Practice has faced many challenges over recent years –Medicare rebate freeze, new PHNs structure and recent changes in training delivery. All of these are impacting on the future of our profession. I believe General practice continues to evolve to meet the current and future challenges facing the Australian health system. However the College of GP’s has a pivotal role to support general practice to deliver an effective and sustainable healthcare for the communities they serve. This article is an attempt to explore and answer the question. How can the RACGP Add Value to General Practice?
As general practice expands to meet the new environment and future challenges it is imperative to have a systemic approach backed by a solid business model that underpins quality care. There is also a need to support the creation of new models of care delivery as many of the RACGP members are either seeking the opportunity to open new practices or refine existing practices. I believe that the College can play an important role in supporting the business of general practice this will in turn support a sustainable and viable small business models regardless of whether you work in, or own it.
The Australian health system ranks as one of the bests in the world I believe the strength of our health system lies in its reliance on general practice and the pivotal role of the general practitioner. I believe that it is essential that the solution for current and future challenges needs to come from within the profession by utilising the wealth of knowledge and expertise that exists within the College and its membership. This can position the RACGP as a leading voice in writing health policies and creating solutions alongside government.
We also need to continue to actively promote and celebrate the role of GPs as highly trained medical specialists that offer solutions to address future complex health issues. We need to continue lobbying government and advocating for change to the funding models to close the gap between specialist and GP rebates.
The strength of the College can only be realised by strong representation and engagement of its members. We need to create communication channels, which allow members to input ideas and concerns on key issues and provide a forum for expression of new ideas. Similarly, communication between the faculties and council needs to be enhanced. The College is privileged to have developed 9 faculties, each of which contributes important information and feedback on specialised aspects of general practice. Links between the colleges and sharing of information and practices can only serve to strengthen the workings of the College.
To cope with the increasing complexity of issues and constantly changing primary care environment there is an urgent need to build leadership, which harnesses the individual and collective talents of primary health, teams. This requires proper engagement with college members by recognising potential leaders and fostering their talents through specific training pathways and mentorship.
Research is the cornerstone of an academic college and the key to shaping our future practice. The general practitioner is in an ideal position to engage in research in primary care and help in the translation of new ideas and evaluation of interventions to the general public. There is a wealth of knowledge and research experience amongst our professorial members and Deans of General Practice, which can be utilised by the College. Our General Practices are a rich source for data collection, audit and real world experiences, which we need to encourage our College members as scientists to explore record and publish.
Imparting the art of general practice is part of our responsibility in passing the baton to the next generation and instilling in future doctors a passion for the profession of general practice. Promoting career pathways in general practice in both rural and metropolitan settings is a key role for the College. We need to support training, education and innovative thinking through a wide variety of programs to enhance skill development at all stages of training.
These are some of what I consider to be the key issues that the RACGP needs to engage with and I believe I have the experience in my past and present roles and the vision to lead the RACGP in the future to work alongside Council to add value to general practice.
Dr Ayman Shenouda