February 2022

Chair report

A message from the Chair – Dr Louise Acland

I hope you had an enjoyable festive season and that you’re settling in to 2022 and are ready for another busy year ahead. The RACGP Expert Committee – Standards for General Practices (REC-SGP) is looking forward to several important projects this year, from improving access to accreditation to piloting updated and new standards across various settings.

I’m happy to confirm the current membership of the REC-SGP will continue for the upcoming triennium. I’m proud to continue leading our committee, which is charged with developing and maintaining standards and resources for general practice. We ensure the standards reflect safe and quality practice and seek to deliver exceptional membership experiences and value. You can learn more about the REC-SGP and its members on our website.

This year, the REC-SGP is gearing up for some significant projects, including:

  • finalising a new definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation and ensuring any general practice providing comprehensive, patient-centred, whole-person and continuous care can access accreditation

  • updating the Infection prevention and control standards for general practices and other office-based and community-based practices

  • piloting and consulting on two updated standards for health services in prisons and immigration detention facilities, and new standards for general practice residential aged care

  • re-accrediting the Standards for general practices (5th edition), including the raft of updates made throughout 2021 with the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua).

We’ll also continue looking toward the future of general practice accreditation with the next edition of the Standards for general practice in our sights. We’ll update you on these projects and promote our consultations through the Standards news subscription, so I encourage you to share this information with your colleagues and invite them to subscribe.

I look forward to a productive year ahead and hope you’ll engage with us across our projects. 

Updating the Infection prevention and control standards

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been seeking feedback on the RACGP’s Infection prevention and control standards for general practices and other office-based and community-based practices (5th edition) (IPC Standards). 

The IPC Standards were published in 2014 and are intended as a guide to help health professionals and other healthcare staff implement infection prevention and control procedures in primary healthcare settings. 

We’re updating the IPC Standards this year to ensure the guidance reflects current evidence and best practice. You still have time to provide your initial thoughts on this update. We’re eager to hear: 

  • what areas of the IPC Standards you find most useful 

  • which content needs more detail or prominent focus 

  • if the advice in the IPC Standards is presented in the most useful format (ie text and tables); if not, tell us what format would be most useful to you and your practice 

  • general feedback you have on the IPC Standards. 

General practices are not accredited against IPC Standards, but you may refer to them to help meet some criteria set out in the Standards for general practices (5th edition).

Initial consultation closes on 7 February 2022, with further consultation to follow. Email any feedback and/or responses to the points above to standards@racgp.org.au

General Practice accreditation extension requests due to COVID-19

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) has advised that general practices can apply for an extension to their accreditation assessment if they are located where there is a public health order in place that prevents a scheduled on-site accreditation assessment.

If your practice needs to apply for an extension for this reason, you should first speak with your accreditation agency before submitting a request. Extension requests can be submitted to the ACSQHC using their existing process. The application form, approval criteria and more information is available on the ACSQHC website.

We’ll provide you with more information as it’s available, via Standards News and other RACGP channels.

Standards for general practice residential aged care

The second draft of the RACGP’s Standards for general practice residential aged care (1st edition) (Standards for GPRAC) has been out for consultation over the last few months. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we haven’t able to pilot the Standards for GPRAC, which is a critical component of ensuring the feasibility, acceptability, achievability and applicability of these standards.

Piloting the Standards for GPRAC will soon begin across residential aged care sites. The consultation period will remain open during the pilot, closing at 5.00 pm (AEST) on 29 April 2022. If the pandemic has a further impact on this timing, we’ll let you know. If you haven’t yet reviewed the current draft, we invite you to do so and provide feedback. You can find the draft on our consultations page.

Standards for health services in Australian prisons

Our pilot of the Standards for health services in Australian prisons (Prison Standards) will begin soon, accompanied by the second round of stakeholder consultation. The draft being piloted has been updated to incorporate feedback from earlier consultations and new recommendations by the REC–SGP. You’ll have the opportunity to review this draft and provide feedback during the upcoming stakeholder consultation.

Once launched, the draft will be hosted on our consultations page and communicated via RACGP channels.

Infection prevention and control updates in the Standards for general practices

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, various measures have been taken to improve and pivot to new ways of working in clinical practice. This includes more stringent infection prevention and control. We’ve reviewed the Standards for general practices (5th edition) (the Standards) to ensure they align with these recent changes to practice. Changes are applicable and relevant to the pandemic and other scenarios, such as bushfires, floods and other emergencies/disasters.

Changes relate to infection prevention and control, as well as to the management of crisis, emergency and disaster across areas of the Standards, including:

Administrative updates in the Standards for general practices

In addition to recent updates to the Standards for general practices (5th edition) (the Standards) on telehealth, sex and gender, and infection prevention and control, we've made a number of administrative and other changes to the Standards in response to:

  • observations and recommendations made by the ISQua

  • observations and lessons learned by the relevant working groups and during the development of recent standards projects.

In addition to updating links and language, we’ve made changes across the Standards, including:

Peer audits for quality and safety

We’re seeking the details of GPs who are willing to conduct peer audits for quality and safety.

From time to time, we receive requests from GPs asking to be put in touch with another GP who can perform a peer audit. A peer audit may be required for any number of quality and safety reasons (eg in response to an adverse event). Commonly, these audits relate to health records, but can also be requested for the review of practice processes and policies.

We’re looking for GPs who are willing to conduct third-party audits for quality and safety.

If you’re an RACGP member and are willing to conduct peer audits for another GP or practice, we invite you to submit your details online or email standards@racgp.org.au

The RACGP isn’t a statutory authority and is unable to intervene in, or review, individual compliance cases or audits. We’re collecting details for the express purpose of connecting GPs willing to conduct a peer audit with those requesting one.

The collection of information to connect GPs with GPs/practices requesting a peer audit conforms with the RACGP Privacy policy. You can find more information on this process and the GP register on the RACGP website.

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