Registered delegates were informed of GP21’s cancellation on Wednesday afternoon, while an announcement on the college’s website points to the ongoing impact of COVID lockdowns and the vaccine rollout as the main catalyst for the decision.
‘[We] understand that mass-vaccination efforts across the country are GPs’ main priority as part of their efforts to help maintain the health and wellbeing of all Australians,’ the announcement states.
‘As such, now is not the right time to hold a national conference … put simply, our members’ priority is elsewhere at this time.’
Delegates who had already registered will receive a full refund, which will be processed within 45 business days.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price said that while the decision is disappointing, it was made with members firmly in mind.
‘The college has done everything it could to keep GP21 on this year’s events calendar, but it’s become clear that pushing ahead would not be in the best interests of members,’ she said.
‘Before COVID, GPs were already stretched. But the ongoing fallout of the pandemic combined with the demands of the vaccine rollout have meant now is not the right time to hold a national conference.
‘We need all hands on deck to vaccinate the country and have us return to some semblance of normalcy. GPs are the foundation of this program and the focus must rightly remain on protecting as many people as possible from this deadly disease.’
Dr Price said cancelling GP21 will likely disappoint some, but she believes it is a ‘mature’ decision that shows leadership and prioritises members and patients.
‘It is not a path we have taken lightly, but we are confident it is the right choice,’ she said.
‘There is light at the end of the tunnel, and we are fast approaching the targets needed for Australians to once again enjoy the quality of life we experienced before COVID.
‘Planning for the GP22 hybrid conference is already well underway, and we hope to increase our face-to-face offerings during so we can truly meet and reflect on the last couple of extraordinary years.
‘In the meantime, we will continue to be the bastion of care for our patients and for the nation.’
The GP22 hybrid conference will be held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre from 7–10 September 2022.
Members with questions or concerns regarding GP21 have been asked to contact the RACGP via email@example.com