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General practice accreditation in Australia: Data from 2010–2021

Method and analysis

Method and analysis

A quantitative analysis was conducted of the RoGS primary and community health data tables associated with general practice accreditation and general practitioners in Australia.

The relevant annual RoGS data from 2010–2021 was examined. The RoGS provides information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of government services in Australia, including primary and community health and general practice accreditation. The RoGS and its accompanying data are in the public domain and freely available.

The RoGS provides national and state/territory data on:

  • the number of practices registered for accreditation
  • the number of general practices and the proportion of accredited practices for 2010, 2011, 2018 and 2019 (see Table 1)
  • the number of FTE GPs working in Australia per annum (see Table 2)
  • the number of practices accredited by two accreditation agencies (AGPAL and QPA) (see Table 3).6

The RoGS data include the total number of general practices in four of the 10 years before 2022, namely 2010, 2011, 2018 and 2019 (this data is supplied to the Productivity Commission by the Department of Health). Having the granular detail in these years allows for the proportion of accredited general practices to be calculated (see Table 3).

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted normal work procedures, including the suspension of accreditation for seven months from 25 March to 26 October 2020.5 Due to constraints caused by this disruption, it is not possible to calculate the proportion of accredited practices in 2020.

The RoGS provides its primary and community health data tables in Microsoft Excel file format. The data provided here have been collated and analysed using this program.

The RoGS data on the number of general practices and the proportion of accredited practices facilitate a calculation of the growth in this proportion over the 10-year period from 2010–2019.

Different editions of the Standards were used by general practices and accreditation agencies during the period of review. The Standards evolved from the third edition to the fourth in 2010, and then into the current, modular fifth edition in 2017. As the accreditation cycle is three years, the RoGS data from 2010–2016 may reflect accreditation against either the third or fourth edition Standards, depending on when the practice’s accreditation occurred. Post-2017, a practice’s accreditation may have been against the fourth or fifth edition.

The number of general practices accredited by the two agencies within the RoGS allows an analysis of the change in market share between these two agencies since 2010.

Full-time equivalence estimates the total effort spent by GPs delivering primary care services and is defined by the Department of Health.7 One FTE equates to 40 hours of clinical work per week, for 46 weeks of the year.7 The method calculates a GP’s primary care workload based on Medical Benefits Schedule(MBS) items claimed within their scope of practice. For each GP, the measure provides an estimate of the billable time, non-billable time and non-clinical time spent on claims.

The RoGS data do not include:

  • the number of general practices and proportion of those that were accredited in 2012–2017 and 2020–2021
  • the number of FTE GPs prior to 2014 when the current calculation for FTE was introduced, up to 2020.
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