May 2022

Chair report

A message from the Chair – Dr Louise Acland

My thoughts go out to the practices affected by the recent floods in New South Wales and Queensland. Over the last few months, many of these practices have experienced significant property damage and considerable impacts on their access to services. To minimise the administrative burden on affected practices, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) will provide extensions to practice accreditation of up to 12 months.

The COVID-19 pandemic also continues to test general practice. Feedback from affected GPs and practice staff demonstrates the difficulties, such as restrictions to access and staff shortages. These difficulties are affecting, among many things, some practices’ ability to address the needs of onsite accreditation visits. I’m pleased to see that the ACSQHC has introduced a hybrid assessment for times an accreditation team cannot happen onsite. A hybrid assessment uses a combination of remote access strategies to assess practices against the Standards for general practices and is an exciting evolution in our approach to accreditation.

I’m also pleased to let you know that each of our three active standards development projects – for prisons, immigration detention and general practice residential aged care – are undergoing or have finished piloting. This milestone follows delays caused by the pandemic and access to health settings in these environments. Piloting is critical for the success and acceptance of standards, and we test the feasibility, acceptability, achievability and applicability of each set. Each set of standards will be published in 2022.

Thank you for your ongoing engagement with the RACGP standards.

General practice accreditation in Australia

We recently published an analysis, General practice accreditation in Australia: Data from 2010–2021, which is based on the Productivity Commission’s Report on government services (RoGS). Our findings relate to three groups of accreditation stakeholders: general practices, GPs and accreditation agencies.

In the period we reviewed, we found:

  • the proportion and number of accredited general practices in Australia increased, and most practices now routinely participate in accreditation
  • variability in the proportion of accredited general practices in each state and territory has decreased
  • the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs has increased, as has the number of FTE GPs per 100,000 people.

The RoGS provides information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of government services in Australia, including primary and community health and general practice accreditation.

Accreditation assessments in 2022

In response to the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on general practices, the ACSQHC has announced a range of provisions for accreditation assessments throughout 2022.

While regular onsite assessment will continue for practices wherever it is safe and feasible to do so, hybrid assessment will be available to practices where onsite assessment cannot occur. 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 interview.

The ACSQHC has advised that offsite virtual assessment will also be allowed, but only in exceptional circumstances. A virtual assessment must be followed up with an onsite assessment.

For general practices with assessments scheduled before 31 July 2022 that are experiencing COVID-19 related disruptions or are unable to proceed due to public health orders, accreditation can be maintained, with the practice accreditation’s expiry date revised by up to six months.

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

Standards for general practice residential aged care

Piloting the Standards for general practice residential aged care (Standards for GPRAC) began across residential aged care facilities (RACFs) in April. The Standards for GPRAC were developed specifically to improve patient care and address the barriers that GPs face when delivering such vital care in residential aged care facilities. Piloting the Standards for GPRAC in multiple RACFs is important to ensure they’re fit for purpose. By considering and incorporating feedback from multiple sites, the pilot will inform the development of a robust final version.

As the pilot continues, we’ve extended the consultation on the draft Standards for GPRAC. 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

Piloting the Standards for health services in Australian prisons (Prison Standards) will commence in the coming months. The Prison Standards aim to support health professionals and their employer organisations in their endeavours to provide high-quality healthcare to people in Australian prisons. As with the Standards for GPRAC, piloting these standards will ensure they are fit for purpose.

As we wait for the pilot to start, we’ve extended the consultation on the draft Prison Standards. 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

Changes to the RACGP Standards for general practices

Our fact sheets page has various resources to complement the Standards and support practices with accreditation. We’ve recently published an update to our Changes to the RACGP Standards for general practices resource, which includes an overview of all the changes published in the Standards over the last six months (including those related to sex and gender, telehealth, and infection prevention and control).

The page also hosts our Standards FAQ and other recent fact sheets, such as Collecting and recording information about patient sex, gender, variations of sex characteristics and sexual orientation and The use of chaperones and observers in general practice.

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