February 2023

Chair report

A message from the Chair – Dr Louise Acland

I hope you’ve enjoyed your summer, and you’re settling into 2023 and looking forward to the year ahead.

On behalf of the RACGP Expert Committee – Standards for General Practices (REC-SGP), I’d like to congratulate and welcome our new President, Dr Nicole Higgins. As we move into the development of a sixth edition of Standards for general practices this year, I look forward to working with Dr Higgins, a practice owner and fierce advocate for our profession.

I plan to bring you updates on our sixth edition developments throughout the year. The RACGP will engage and consult widely with the profession as the new edition is brought together.

With support from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) and Department of Health and Aged Care, we’ll further consult on updating ‘the definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation’ in 2023 – the aim being that all general practices that provide comprehensive, patient-centred, whole-person and continuous care become eligible for accreditation.

In 2023, the RACGP will also finalise and publish the Standards for health services in Australian prisons (Prison Standards) and Standards for general practice residential aged care (Standards for GPRAC) – both critical to the provision of safe and quality healthcare delivered to patients in these settings.

I look forward to a productive year and hope you’ll engage with us across our projects. Thank you for your ongoing engagement with the RACGP Standards.

Infection prevention and control guidelines

We recently published the new Infection prevention and control guidelines for general practices and other office-based and community-based practices (the IPC Guidelines), which were developed by the RACGP in partnership with the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association.  

The IPC Guidelines give you updated guidance on planning and implementing high standards of infection prevention and control in your workplace by addressing: 

  • the basics of infection prevention and control (including principles, hand hygiene, personal protective equipment, aseptic technique and levels of precaution) 
  • managing risks to staff (including staff screening immunisation and infection management, sharps, and exposure to blood and other body substances) 
  • managing the practice environment (including cleaning, laundry and waste management) 
  • managing equipment (including reprocessing reusable medical devices) 
  • managing outbreaks (including disease surveillance and outbreak response) 
  • practice set-up (including practice design, fit-out, equipment and consumables). 

The IPC Guidelines are intended as a guide to help health professionals in office-based practices implement infection prevention and control procedures. Practices aren’t accredited against the IPC Guidelines, but may refer to them in meeting relevant criteria in the Standards for general practices (5th edition).  

We’ll host a webinar on the IPC Guidelines on 14 March 2023, from 7.00 – 8.30 pm AEDT, exploring what’s new and significant. The webinar will be facilitated by members of the RACGP Technical Working Group – Infection prevention and control.

Register your the Infection prevention and control guidelines webinar

Summer Planning Toolkit

We launched the Summer Planning Toolkit in December, and you can find it on our website. This toolkit helps your practice consider summer preparedness activities you can implement for the health and safety of your patients and practice team.

The toolkit is in modular format, covering:

The Summer Planning Toolkit is a ‘one stop shop’ for key resources from the RACGP and other leading organisations. It includes information on summer readiness, including information on emergency preparedness, epidemics and chronic disease and advice on keeping you and your patients safe and healthy during summer. It identifies the accreditation alignment and requirements within the Standards for general practices (5th edition).

Developing the next edition of the Standards for general practices

We’re currently in the preparatory phase for the development of a sixth edition Standards for general practices (the Standards). The RACGP Expert Committee – Standards for General Practices (REC-SGP) is:

  • evaluating the Standards against both the quadruple aim (patient experience, population health, reducing costs and provider experience) and the accreditation principles of the International Society for Quality in Health Care International Society for Quality in Health Care
  • exploring how the Standards address all general practice services as we continue to review and consult on the definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation.

As we prepare for the development of the next edition Standards, we’re seeking your feedback on the current, fifth edition. If you have any feedback on the current Standards for consideration, email standards@racgp.org.au

Patient feedback

Criterion QI1.2 of the Standards requires practices to collect feedback in accordance with the requirements of the Patient feedback guide.

Patient feedback can be used to:

  • improve the quality of healthcare provided by your practice
  • improve other aspects of your practice (eg administrative and reception services)
  • provide constructive feedback to your staff
  • demonstrate that you value your patients’ views and needs.

Collecting and responding to feedback means your patients are more likely to have positive experiences at your practice, which in turn leads to positive outcomes for patients because they’re more likely to follow the advice and treatment they receive and return to your practice and experience continuity of care.

Practices can collect feedback from patients in a number of ways, including via questionnaires, focus groups and interviews. The Patient feedback guide discusses these methods in detail.

If collecting patient feedback via a questionnaire, practices have a variety of options. Your practice can:

  • use the RACGP’s questionnaire
  • use a commercial tool that has been approved by the RACGP
  • develop a questionnaire specific to your practice (adhering to the requirements of the Patient feedback guide).

The rationale behind patient feedback themes, including the collection of demographic information, is explored more in our fact sheet, ‘Patient feedback – required demographics and themes for collection’.

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

We have made important updates to the Standards for general practices (5th edition), reflecting the expectation that practices need to be prepared for potential clinical emergencies. 

All changes are outlined in this factsheet.

Ischaemic heart disease is the number one cause of death for men in Australia, and the second most common cause of death for women1. Updates to the Standards have been made to reflect the expectation that practices are prepared for potential clinical emergencies. These changes include immediate access to an electrocardiograph and an automatic external defibrillator (AED).

The following indicators have been updated to “flagged” (mandatory) to reflect these complex healthcare needs:

  • GP1.1C – Our recorded phone message advises patients to call 000 in case of an emergency.
  • GP5.2E – Our practice has a defibrillator.

Changes have also been made to the following indicators:

  • GP5.2►A – Our practice has equipment that enables us to provide comprehensive primary care and emergency resuscitation, including:
    • electrocardiograph
  • GP5.2►D – Our practice has timely access to a spirometer and electrocardiograph*.

Accredited general practices will have a transition period of 12 months from the above launch date in which to meet these new requirements. This transition period is consistent with all previous updates to the Standards. General practices that already have the required systems and equipment in place will be assessed as having ‘met’ these requirements at their accreditation.


1. Australian Government Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Deaths in Australia. Canberra: AIHW, 2022.

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