Dr Harry Nespolon
BMBS, DipRACOG, FRACGP, FACLM, BEc,LLB (Hons), MBA, FAICD, MHL
Members are the heart and soul of the RACGP, and over the past 12 months the college has worked to meet the needs and aspirations of members and patients.
GPs see non-referred, undifferentiated patients. They can only guess at the next clinical problem to present – be it common or extremely rare. As such, there are few areas of health education not relevant to a GP. Making the planning learning and need (PLAN) activity voluntary, which was applauded, was the beginning of a renewed focus on members for the RACGP.
As President, I have focused on advocating on your behalf without hindrance. Our activities during the federal election showed our parliamentarians that we are willing to engage in the political process to support patient access to GPs. The outcome does show that we need to advocate for general practice on an ongoing basis, not just when an election is called. The RACGP has a respectful relationship with ministers and parliamentarians on all sides of politics, which will assist with efforts to build ongoing engagement.
The election also demonstrated that there is only one organisation that advocates solely for general practice and its patients. As part of this ongoing commitment, our Vision for general practice and a sustainable healthcare system (Vision) is being implemented by the government, beginning with a focus on care of patients aged over 70 years.
The RACGP has been highly successful in all forms of mainstream media, leading the debate on myriad issues, including the privacy provisions of My Health Record and the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review.
Anecdotally, more media outlets, patient groups and patients now support us. These advocates know the importance of general practice for their own health, that of their families and of their communities, and they are prepared to say it in multiple fora. The RACGP must continue expanding its sphere of influence to include these important groups.
While it is not possible to have 40,000 members agree on every issue, ensuring high-quality patient care and access to GPs binds us together. The RACGP has worked hard this year to ensure that patient access to high-quality medical care is not diluted by patients being funnelled to non-medical practitioners who wish to operate outside their scope of practice.
During the year we made over 200 submissions on a variety of clinical and non-clinical issues. The RACGP is an important voice in developing clinical standards and dealing with social issues that affect the day-to-day work of GPs.
I look forward to seeing the RACGP continue to grow in all the areas discussed over the next year, especially as we launch our Vision, due for release later in 2019.