Standards for general practices

Introduction to the Standards for general practices (5th edition)

Changes from the previous edition

      1. Changes from the previous edition

Last revised: 24 Feb 2023


Changes from the previous edition

Revised structure

The fourth edition of the Standards had five sections that accreditation surveyors used as the basis of their assessments of general practices. The fifth edition of the Standards has three modules that collectively cover all of the areas in the fourth edition, but in a different structure.

This modular structure allows the RACGP to update the modules separately, and to adapt the Standards for other healthcare settings such as correctional services and immigration detention centres. For example, the first two modules (the core module and the quality improvement module) are relevant for all healthcare settings, but the third module (the general practice module) can be adapted to accommodate the specific needs of each healthcare setting. Figure 1 (on the following page) illustrates this modular approach and how it is different to previous editions.

Numbering of Criteria and Indicators

The numbering system works as follows:

  • The Standards in each module are numbered separately (Standards 1–8 in the core module, Standards 1–3 in the quality improvement module, and Standards 1–6 in the general practice module).
  • The Criteria for each Standard has a code indicating the module (C for core, QI for quality improvement and GP for general practice), followed by sequential numbering that indicates the Standard and Criterion. For example, C1.1 is the first Criterion for the first Standard in the core module; C1.2 is the second Criterion for the first Standard in the Core module; GP4.2 is the second Criterion for the fourth Standard in the general practice module).

Table 1 demonstrates the different structure between the Standards fourth and fifth editions.

Numbering in the Standards (4th edition) Numbering in the Standards (5th edition)
Section 1: Practice services
Standard 1.1: Access to care
Criterion 1.1.1 – Scheduling care in opening hours
Core module
Standard 1: Communication and patient participation
Criterion C1.1 – Information about your practice
A. Our practice can demonstrate that we have a flexible system for determining the order in which patients are seen, to accommodate patients’ needs for urgent care, non-urgent care, complex care, planned chronic disease management, preventive healthcare and longer consultations
C1.1A Our patients can access up-to-date information about the practice.
At a minimum, this information contains:
  • our practice’s address and telephone numbers our consulting hours and details of arrangements for care outside normal opening hours our practice’s billing principles a list of our practitioners our practice’s communication policy, including when and how we receive and return telephone calls and electronic communications our practice’s policy for managing patient health information (or its principles and how full details can be obtained from the practice) the process we use to follow up on results how to provide feedback or make a complaint to the practice information about the range of services we provide


Indicators that focus on outcomes and patients

The Indicators in this edition have, where appropriate, been written with a focus on outcomes and patients, instead of on prescribed processes or what the practice does.

For example:

Process-focused Indicator Outcome-focused Indicator
Our practice has a documented system to identify, follow up, and recall patients with clinically significant results Our practice recalls patients who have clinically significant results

By focusing on outcomes, your practice can develop systems and processes that reflect your preferred ways of working, and choose how to demonstrate that you meet the intent of each Indicator. It is important that you can provide evidence of meeting the Indicator, either through inspection or interview. Focusing on outcomes will give your practice’s team greater ownership of your processes and systems, making your team more likely to follow them not only during accreditation, but also before and after.

Fewer Indicators

There are 14 fewer Indicators than in the fourth edition. The RACGP achieved this by:

  • removing duplication
  • merging Indicators that shared a similar theme
  • focusing on outcomes rather than processes.

Restructured explanatory notes

The explanatory notes for each Criterion now have three sections:
  • Why this is important
This section explains why the Indicators are important from a quality and safety perspective.
  • Meeting this Criterion

This section sets out ways that your practice can choose to demonstrate that you meet this Criterion and/or its Indicators.

  • Meeting each Indicator

This section contains a list of any mandatory activities your practice must do to meet the Indicator, and/or optional ways your practice can choose to meet the Indicator.

This change was made as a direct result of feedback collected from stakeholders during the consultation phases.

Use of ‘could’ and ‘must’

In the explanatory notes, the words ‘could’ and ‘must’ are used as follows:

  • ‘Could’ is used to indicate that something is optional.
  • ‘Must’ is used to indicate that something is mandatory.

Plain English

In response to feedback from stakeholders, this edition is written in plain English, thereby eliminating ambiguity and reducing the use of technical language.

Reduced citation of federal, state or territory legislation

Legislation has been cited only where it is especially important to a particular aspect of general practice (eg in Criterion 6.3 ‘Confidentiality and privacy of health and other information’ in the core module).

Therefore, most of the relevant federal, state or territory legislation has not been cited in this document.

As federal, state or territory, and local legislation overrides any non-legislative standards, including those in this document, your practice is responsible for ensuring that you comply with relevant legislation.

If your practice is accredited against the Standards, you will have met some of your legislative requirements, but this does not mean that you have automatically met all of them, as the Standards do not address all of the relevant state and territory legislation.