November 2020

Chair report

A message from the Chair – Dr Louise Acland

On behalf of the RACGP Expert Committee – Standards for General Practices (REC-SGP), I’d like to congratulate and welcome our President-elect, Dr Karen Price. The next two years will see new and exciting standards and accreditation developments, and I look forward to working with Dr Price. I encourage you to find about Dr Price’s plan for her first 100 days as President on our website.

This year has presented many challenges to general practice, including the need to maintain safety amid the ever-evolving precautions, rules and lockdowns associated with COVID-19. For the last six months, onsite general practice accreditation has been rightly categorised a high-risk activity, and onsite survey visits to practices have not been possible. 

From 26 October 2020, assessments against the Standards for general practices (5th edition) (the Standards) under the National General Practice Accreditation Scheme can resume for practices deemed to have a low risk of COVID-19 transmission. I recently spoke with newsGP regarding the measures put in place to ensure onsite accreditation visits occur safely, and details for the recommencement of accreditation are also provided in this edition of Standards News.

Finally, the REC-SGP is reviewing the latest edition of the Standards in light of COVID-19 to make necessary updates to standards relating to infection prevention and control and emergency response planning. We’re also reviewing the Standards to address accreditation requirements for telehealth and video conferencing within practices. I look forward to bringing you details about these important updates in future Standards News and through other RACGP communication channels.

Thank you for your ongoing engagement with the RACGP Standards.

Recommencement of accreditation

Onsite general practice accreditation assessments resumed on 26 October 2020 following a period of maintained (paused) accreditation from 25 March 2020, during which no accreditation assessments took place. 

Accreditation agencies will now assess general practices deemed to have low risk of COVID-19 transmission. Any practice located in an at-risk area (including a COVID-19 cluster or under state/territory restrictions or lockdown) will be ineligible for onsite assessment and will continue to have their accreditation maintained. Practice Incentive Payments (PIP) will continue as normal for accredited practices until onsite assessment. Priority for accreditation will be given to general practices that:

  • have completed an initial assessment and are in the remediation period to address mandatory indicators that were not met
  • were previously scheduled for assessments from March 2020 and have not yet been assessed
  • have completed the Attestation Statement
  • were granted an extension to the accreditation status with special conditions
  • have been registered for the PIP for more than 12 months.

Along with the agencies, the Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Health Care (the Commission) will review eligibility for assessment as risk statuses change.

Accredited general practices will have 12 months added to their current accreditation expiry date, and an assessment should be scheduled with a practice’s accrediting agency to commence at least four months before the revised accreditation expires.

The Commission’s FAQs for practices provide details on low-risk criteria, when a practice will be assessed and what measures are in place to ensure onsite assessments are conducted safely.

The RACGP will extend eligibility criteria for surveyors by 12 months from 26 October 2020.

Your accreditation agency will reach out to your practice. If you have any questions, contact your agency, the Commission or the RACGP.

The Standards at GP20

Standards development projects

GP20 is going digital this year and will run from 16–28 November. 

Presentations on our current standards projects will feature among the on-demand content in this year’s conference program, including:

  • Standards for general practice residential aged care (Standards for GPRAC)
  • Standards for health services in Australian prisons (Prison Standards)
  • Standards for health services in Australian immigration detention facilities (IDF Standards)

Each project’s working group chair will discuss project development, the challenges faced in each setting, the look of each new set of standards and the planned progression of each set as we enter a COVID-19 recovery phase. 

The definition of ‘clinical team’ for the purpose of accreditation

The REC-SGP has been reviewing the definition of a clinical team for the purpose of accreditation to ensure it remains fit for purpose. This review follows stakeholder feedback identifying challenges with the practical application of the existing definition.

Associate Professor Carl de Wet, Deputy Chair – REC-SGP, will present on the definition of a clinical team as part of GP20’s on-demand content, discussing:

  • the processes and outcomes of updating the definition
  • the development of simple criteria to help practices and accreditors reliably identify clinical team members
  • the expansion of the related guidance.

These presentations will be available on-demand for GP20 attendees, so be sure to tune in if you’re attending. Visit the GP20 website to register and learn more about the program. 

Standards for general practice residential aged care

The latest draft of the RACGP Standards for general practice residential aged care (the Standards for GPRAC) is available from the RACGP Consultations page and incorporates feedback from the initial stakeholder consultation. To ensure the Standards for GPRAC are fit for purpose, we invite you to review the updated draft and provide further feedback.

The consultation phase is ongoing and will continue until we have completed piloting – the timing of which is subject to the COVID-19 recovery phase in the aged care sector. We will advise you on this timeline as it evolves.

We’ve developed the Standards for GPRAC specifically to improve patient care and address the barriers that GPs face when delivering vital care in residential aged care facilities (RACFs). 

Dr Louise Acland, Chair of the RACGP Working Group – Standards for general practice residential aged care, recently spoke with aged care stakeholders about the rationale behind the development of these standards. Dr Acland provided an overview of the development process, outlined the structure of the Standards for GPRAC and invited further engagement with the development through consultation. You can watch the presentation on the RACGP website.

To support the Standards for GPRAC, we’re developing a collaborative care toolkit (expanding on the 2013 Best practice guide for collaborative care between general practitioners (GPs) and residential aged care facilities). The resource highlights links between the Standards for GPRAC and the RACGP aged care clinical guide (Silver Book) to develop collaborative care between GPs and RACFs. We’ll consult with members and key stakeholders in the future.

Standards FAQs

We recently provided an updated Frequently asked questions for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) requirements in general practices. This fact sheet helps practices understand the requirements for CPR training in relation to both the Standards and GPs’ continuing professional development (CPD) each triennium.

We’ve also provided a fact sheet to accompany our Patient feedback guide, providing detail on the rationale for collecting both demographic information and patient responses across six themes. Criterion QI1.2 of the Standards obliges practices to collect feedback in accordance with the requirements of the Patient feedback guide. 

If you’re looking at how you can get your practice accredited against the Standards, read through our FAQs or email with any questions.

You can access all of the RACGP Standards fact sheets on the RACGP website.

Contact us and stay in touch

Following the launch of Standards News earlier this year, we continue to highlight the Standards through an increased social media presence, incorporating updates, invitations and useful resources. We recently took to Facebook and Twitter to highlight the importance of patient safety, directing visitors to key Standards content and advice, including:

We encourage you to connect with the RACGP through these social network platforms.

If you know someone who would like to receive this newsletter, refer them to the RACGP Standards News page to subscribe. Alternatively, have them email with their name, position and email address. You can contact the RACGP Standards team at this address any time for more information or assistance.

The RACGP does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may result from reliance on, or the use of, any information contained in this newsletter.