August 2022

Chair report

A message from the Chair – Dr Louise Acland

I’m excited to share the updated Standards for general practices (5th edition) have just been awarded accreditation by the International Society for Quality and Safety in Health Care (ISQua) until 2026.

ISQua performs a rigorous process to assess standards. The Standards were assessed on the development and updates that have been made since 2018. We provided a detailed self-assessment of the Standards against ISQua’s criteria was provided, including evidence and detail to support how criteria are met.

We’re thrilled that the Standards continue to be independently assessed as meeting international best-practice benchmarks.

I’m also pleased to announce that the Standards for health services in Australian immigration detention facilities (2nd edition) (IDF Standards) were recently endorsed by the RACGP Board and will be published in September 2022. The IDF Standards support the delivery of safe, quality care in immigration detention facility health services.

More information on the IDF Standards will be available on our website soon, and a more detailed overview will be provided in the next edition of Standards news. I would like to thank members of the RACGP Working Group – Standards for health services in Australian immigration detention facilities for their dedication to the development of these standards and look forward to seeing the IDF Standards’ implementation across the immigration detention sector.

Following on from the federal election last quarter, I’d like to welcome our new Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler. Mr Butler will be key to shaping the future of primary care and aged care in Australia, and we look forward to working with him on standards projects to enhance quality general practice, including the upcoming Standards for general practice residential aged care and sixth edition of Standards for general practice.

Thank you for your ongoing engagement with the RACGP standards.

ISQua accredits RACGP Standards for general practices

The fifth edition of the RACGP Standards for general practices (the Standards) has been reaccredited by the International Society for Quality and Safety in Health Care (ISQua).

ISQua is an independent not-for-profit organisation that runs an international accreditation program for healthcare facilities and is responsible for assessing the standards of organisations that set benchmarks in healthcare safety and quality.

ISQua’s latest review of our Standards considered a detailed self-assessment and analysis of updates made to the Standards since 2018, including updates to Research Criteria and detail on telehealth, infection prevention and control, and sex and gender.

Ongoing accreditation of the Standards means our publication has been independently assessed as meeting international best-practice benchmarks.

The two accreditation processes we’ve undertaken with ISQua for the fifth edition Standards have provided a range of learning opportunities that have informed updates to the Standards and will inform the next edition to be developed over the coming years.

Winter Planning Toolkit

Our Winter Planning Toolkit encourages your practice to implement winter-preparedness activities for the health and safety of your patients and practice team. 

The toolkit is modular, covering: 

The toolkit considers the impact of respiratory infections in the community and highlights key priorities and principles of infection prevention and control, workforce protection and planning, processes for patient management, managing the risk of cross-infection, and the health and wellbeing of staff.  

International Society of Quality in Health Care – Conference 2022

This October, the International Society of Quality in Health Care (ISQua) is hosting its 38th International Conference. ISQua is a leading international organisation dedicated to improving the quality and safety of healthcare through a global community of members and partners. To support its mission, ISQua hosts an annual international conference, with #ISQua2022 taking place in Brisbane, Australia.

As a focal point of ISQua’s work, the conference serves as a forum to facilitate meaningful connections, conversations, and networking among the most influential leaders reshaping the healthcare industry. Patient safety and patient-centred care are at the heart of ISQua’s mission and will be fundamental in discussions at the conference. A plethora of world-renowned keynote speakers will present under the theme: Designing for the Future–Community, Resilience, and Sustainability and are sure to spark innovative dialogue amongst attendees.

The RACGP is excited to be exhibiting at the conference and Dr Louise Acland, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Standards for General Practices (REC-SGP) will be delivering a presentation about the recent changes to collection and recording of patient sex and gender in the Standards for general practices (5th edition).

You’ll be eligible for CPD points by attending this event.

The conference takes place from 17 – 20 October 2022 and registrations are open via ISQua’s website.

Support for general practices affected by flooding

In response to the July 2022 flooding in New South Wales, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) will accept submissions for accreditation extensions for general practices significantly affected by the flooding.

Contact your accrediting agency if your practice:

  • has accreditation due to expire before December 2022; and
  • is experiencing disruption by the flooding in New South Wales.

Your accrediting agency can apply to the ACSQHC for an accreditation extension on your behalf.

For more information, contact your accrediting agency or email the Safety and Quality Advice Centre

Accreditation assessments in 2022

A range of provisions for accreditation assessments are in place throughout 2022 in response to the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on general practices.

Although regular onsite assessment continues for practices whenever it’s safe and feasible to do so, hybrid assessment is available to practices when onsite assessment isn’t possible.

A hybrid assessment involves part of the assessment team being onsite and part offsite. The offsite component uses a combination of remote access strategies for assessment, including document and data uploads and remote interviews. 

Offsite virtual assessment is also available in exceptional circumstances. A virtual assessment must be followed up with an onsite assessment. 

You can find more information and applications for hybrid or virtual assessment and extensions to accreditation on the National General Practice Accreditation Scheme website

Cancellation of assessments at short notice

The RACGP and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care have become aware of general practices cancelling their general practice accreditation assessments immediately before assessment.

General practices should complete their assessment and obtain accreditation at least four months prior to their accreditation expiry date to ensure accreditation doesn’t lapse and access to government funding programs continues.

Accreditation extensions are only considered when general practices meet criteria outlined in Advisory GP18/01: Extensions to accreditation. We urge general practices to work with their accrediting agency to schedule and maintain an accreditation assessment date that enables them to achieve accreditation before the expiry date.

New AskMBS Advisory – General practice services

The Department of Health has published a new AskMBS Advisory on general practice services, which responds to a range of questions on topics such as telehealth, chronic disease management, co-claiming and standard attendances.

The advisory was developed in response to a 2021 webinar held by the RACGP for GPs in training (Understanding Medicare compliance). Attendees asked several follow-up questions in relation to the webinar, generally seeking clarification on the correct billing procedures for specific MBS items. This new advisory answers these questions.

Remember, questions about MBS item interpretation are best directed to

You can find more AskMBS Advisories on the Department’s website.

Considering, respecting, collecting and recording patient identity and body diversity in general practice

The Standards for general practices (5th edition) (the Standards) asks practices to consider and respect patients’ rights, identity, body diversity, beliefs, and religious and cultural backgrounds when providing patient healthcare.

Criterion C2.1 of the Standards explores respectful and culturally appropriate care for patients and suggests a range of ways practices can demonstrate consideration and respect for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and asexual (LGBTIQA+) patients, such as:

  • maintaining a policy of acknowledging, recording and implementing the names and pronouns used by each patient
  • demonstrating that patients’ assigned sex at birth, variations of sex characteristics (intersex status) and gender are recorded separately in your clinical software
  • meeting a patient’s request for a practitioner they feel comfortable with, if possible
  • holding meetings for the clinical team to discuss and identify the unique health needs of LGBTIQA+ patients and those of other gender and sexual diversities
  • displaying LGBTIQA+ symbols and/or flags.

Collecting information about sex, gender, variations of sex characteristics and sexual orientation

Missing or misrepresented information in a patient’s health record can have substantial implications for clinical care delivery. If a patient’s assigned sex at birth and gender are conflated and inaccurately recorded, appropriate treatments might not be offered.

Practices need to explain to patients the reason for collecting information about sex and gender so they know their information is being confidentially collected for their own health outcomes, not for discriminatory or judgemental reasons.

For the best health outcomes, practices need to ask for and separately record details about a patient’s sex, gender, variations of sex characteristics and sexual orientation. Your practice could do the following to improve the accuracy of responses when collecting this information from patients:

  • Clearly explain why questions are being asked and how answers will be used.
  • Use forms that allow patients to choose from multiple fields (eg see formats for preferred question and answer options below).
  • Ask patients what pronouns they use, then document and use this information (eg in referral letters).
  • Ask questions that distinguish between identity (ie male/female) and descriptors of behaviour, attraction and experience (ie ask who your patient’s sexual partners are).

For more information about how your practice can support LGBTIQA+ patients through the collection and recording of information, see:

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