Paul Wappett has been appointed the new CEO of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).
Paul comes to the RACGP following a successful stint as CEO of the private higher education provider the Australian Institute of Business (AIB), which is the market-share leader for MBAs in Australia.
The appointment follows the resignation of Dr Matthew Miles as RACGP CEO in July this year. RACGP Board Chair Christine Nixon’s term as Executive Chair will soon end, with Paul starting in the CEO role on Monday 8 November.
Paul said he was looking forward to a new challenge.
‘I take great pride in knowing what makes organisations tick and how to help them reach their full potential,’ he said.
Under Paul’s leadership, AIB underwent a comprehensive business transformation. It improved the quality of education programs and achieved record student-satisfaction ratings, a highly engaged workforce and, ultimately, a strong increase in enrolments.
‘AIB now specialises in educational content production and curation, the use and development of learning technologies and platforms as well as the use of data analytics to drive better learning outcomes. This is all highly relevant to the RACGP, particularly at a time when continuing professional development is undergoing significant change.
‘I’ve also worked in membership organisations, including holding senior executive roles at CPA Australia. I’m incredibly proud to lead a body that fights for GPs at a time when communities are relying on them now more than ever.
‘GPs are on the frontline helping patients during a pandemic and playing an essential role in a complex vaccine rollout. As COVID-19 hopefully moves from the pandemic to endemic phase here in Australia, GPs will be responsible for managing the fallout. That includes helping patients who have delayed or avoided care and treatment, treating people with “long COVID” as well as those who are experiencing mental health concerns.
‘It’ll be my job to do everything possible to fight for GPs as they help their communities recover.’
Paul said he would draw on his experience to lead the RACGP during a time when members need a strong representative body.
‘As CEO of AIB, I sought to make MBAs as accessible as possible. I wanted there to be lots of pathways into this line of study and for the MBAs to fit in around the lives of those seeking to further their education and knowledge,’ he said.
‘As RACGP CEO, I see many parallels because I want GPs to be focused on the enormous job at hand. Many GPs and general practice staff will be experiencing burnout after a gruelling 18 months.
‘I want membership of the college to be as easy and straightforward as possible and the benefits we deliver for them to be 100% apparent. That includes taking on big advocacy challenges, such as ensuring the fees GPs derive through the Medicare Benefits Schedule keep pace with the cost of delivering world-class general practice care.
‘I want general practice to be front of mind for government and for members to know that our voice will always be heard loud and clear.
‘I also want to be upfront with all members and RACGP staff that there are challenges ahead. The return of GP training to the colleges will be a watershed moment and means the RACGP needs to work in very close partnership with training organisations and the Federal Government to ensure a smooth transition.
‘I’ll be working hard as I can to earn the trust of members, including those in training, and make the college more agile, adaptable and member-focused. I thrive on a challenge and can’t wait to start in this new role.’
RACGP President Dr Karen Price welcomed the appointment.
‘After a thorough national search, the RACGP Board was unanimous in the decision to offer the role to Paul, and I believe he is the right person to lead the college in the years ahead. He comes to the RACGP with impeccable credentials and a strong track record of executive leadership, and we are lucky to have him.
‘I look forward to working closely with Paul on managing the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to continuing professional development and the return of GP training to the college. I also hope to help Paul further transform the culture of the RACGP and respond positively to member feedback.
‘On behalf of all members, the Board and RACGP staff, I welcome Paul to the RACGP and wish him all the best.’
Paul’s previous positions include being the CEO of Open Universities Australia from 2012–18 and legal and commercial roles at CPA Australia, the Western Bulldogs Football Club, Mobil Oil Australia and law firm Clayton Utz. He was also the Chairman of Berry Street, the largest child-protection agency in Victoria, between 2010 and 2018, and of corporate training company e3 Learning from 2013–16.