March 2021

Chair report

Message from the Chair – Assoc Prof Charlotte Hespe

March has been a busy month of information-gathering for everyone!

Practices that expressed interest in administering the COVID-19 vaccine have now of course been notified about start dates and numbers of doses. For them, the careful planning process for managing vaccine clinic logistics can now move into gear. The low number of doses available is frustrating, but we’ll have to manage this part of the ‘bottleneck’ as we wait for the first delivery.

And in an historic first, all NSW GPs have also been told what numbers of flu vaccine doses they can expect to receive.

The crossover of the two vaccines may initially seem overwhelming, but the gradual rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine allows us time to identify, invite and vaccinate our ‘vulnerable’ patients against the flu before delivering the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s an opportunity to prepare them for the COVID-19 vaccine and address any concerns or misunderstandings. Then we can fully concentrate on providing the AstraZeneca product and ensure our systems fully align with the special needs of this vaccine, such as the need to draw up from a multi-dose vial.
If you’re still organising your clinics, I’d strongly encourage you to listen to our COVID-19 vaccination clinic podcasts. They include interviews with a range of GPs sharing their own ideas and plans.

If you’re still organising your clinics, I’d strongly encourage you to listen to our COVID-19 vaccination clinic podcasts. They include interviews with a range of GPs sharing their own ideas and plans.

With so much extra stress and burden placed on us over the past 12 months, it’s more important than ever to be looking after our own and our colleagues’ wellbeing. Please be vigilant for the signs and symptoms of burnout and emotional distress – things we identify and treat in our patients every day but may neglect in ourselves. Reach out to one another for help and be ready to provide support when someone reaches out to you.

Calendar of events

Calendar of events

Event: Date: QI&CPD points
Smoking during pregnancy: Opportunities for intervention Monday 22 March
7.30–8.30‌ pm
CPD activity (2 points)
Trauma-informed care in general practice Tuesday 30 March
7.30–8.30‌ pm
CPD activity (2 points)
Wellbeing weekend Saturday 10 April
10.00‌ am – 5.00‌ pm
CPD activity (12 points)
COVID-19 update webinar Monday 12 April
7.00–8.00‌ pm
Identifying and managing heart failure Tuesday 20 April
7.00–8.00‌ pm
Suddenly I’m a leader podcast On demand Self-record
Save the date – GP21 Friday to Sunday 10–12‌ September 2021 N/A

Events in the spotlight

Wellbeing weekend – Join us online

Our Wellbeing Weekend is always popular, and places at the face-to-face 2021 event on Saturday 10 April have sold out.

Remember, you can join us online too, as we’re streaming the event on Zoom. If you’re not Zoom-fatigued and would like our presenters to inspire you to take care of your own health, join us virtually. To sign up, email us at or find out more about the event.


ACT Therapeutic Goods Administration issues Serious Shortage Substitution Notice

Pharmacists are automatically enabled to substitute medicines on the Serious Shortage Substitution Notice (SSSN) without a prescription for the substitute medicine in the ACT. You can find more information about the ACT’s adoption of the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s SSSN protocol on the ACT Health Pharmaceutical Services website.

COVID-19 MBS telehealth services extended until 30 June 2021

The Federal Government has announced $1.1 billion in new funding to extend MBS telehealth services and care until 30 June 2021.

To date, around 13 million patients have received more than 51 million telehealth services, totalling almost $2.6 billion in benefits. And more than 82,000 providers have used telehealth services nationwide. The Government will continue to review the ongoing role of telehealth to support the pandemic response in the short term while planning permanent post-pandemic telehealth arrangements in consultation with groups including the RACGP.

Read media release.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health check templates feedback

The Federal Department of Health has endorsed recently updated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health check templates developed in partnership between the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the RACGP.

We’re asking you to give your feedback on the updated templates by:

Take the survey

Your say on a national lung cancer screening program

The University of Sydney is conducting focus groups to better understand the feasibility of a national lung cancer screening program. Your input as a primary carer is central to the proposed screening and assessment pathway.

The focus groups will run from 4–31 March 2021 and take approximately one hour on Zoom. Participants will be reimbursed for their time with a $100 gift voucher.

For more information, email or register now.

Changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from 1 March 2021

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) was updated on 1 March 2021. Refer to the FAQs relating to accessing and using the online PBS Authorities System. For more information on broader PBS changes, visit the PBS website.

National news

Go beyond with Practice to Practice


We’re looking for participants from across Australia to jump onboard the Practice to Practice pilot program.

The program connects urban and rural practices to grow locum pools, increase peer support, enhance professional development and provide a greater service offering for patients. It encourages you to go beyond your every day and try life and work in a different practice setting.

Whether you’re based in an urban, regional, rural or remote area, the program has benefits for you, your team and your patient community.

Pilot program places are limited. To register, visit the website.

Applications now open for the 2021 RACGP Mentoring Program


Are you a seasoned GP with wisdom to share with a GP in the early stages of their career? Or are you looking for guidance from an established colleague?

Then sign up for the 2021 RACGP Mentoring Program. Mentees will be professionally and personally supported by an experienced mentor to manage the pressures of the profession, including social isolation, denigration of the profession and unsustainable workplace pressures.

Mentors get 40 CPD points after completing the training and follow-up webinars, and mentees who complete the training and attend the webinars get 20 points.

Visit the website for more information.

NSW Health update*


Go4Fun is FREE and available to children aged 7–13 years who are above a healthy weight and their families. The program has reached more than 15,000 participants since 2010.

There are three versions of Go4Fun:

  • Go4Fun
  • Aboriginal Go4Fun – culturally adapted for Aboriginal families
  • Go4Fun Online – digitally delivered with individual coaching

The programs improve eating habits, fitness, self-esteem and overall health.

Why refer?

Go4Fun complements patient care with significant improvements to eating and physical activity habits and progress in weight status. Refer in Best Practice, MedicalDirector, Communicare software or online, or call 1800 7800 900.

A collaborative approach to progressing shared care planning in NSW

NSW Health and eHealth NSW are working with key stakeholders to progress a statewide approach to shared care planning (SCP).

A shared care plan provides a patient-centred health record that can be shared among multidisciplinary health and social care teams and the patient for a holistic view of long-term care.

A preliminary design working group has been established with 37 stakeholders from NSW Health, eHealth NSW, the Clinical Excellence Commission, the Agency for Clinical Innovation, local health districts and Public Health Networks. General practice and consumer consultations have taken place.

For more information, visit the Integrated care in NSW website or email

Scheduling of cannabidiol and its implications for practice

On 1 February 2021 the Poisons Standard was amended to make low-dose cannabidiol a Schedule 3 substance. This will enable pharmacists to consider – when assessed as appropriate – supplying Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved low-dose cannabidiol products over the counter without a prescription if the Schedule 3 criteria are met.

Currently, no TGA-approved products meet the Schedule 3 criteria, so at this stage patients must still obtain a prescription from a medical practitioner to access cannabidiol products for use in any dose.

Watch a recent RACGP webinar for information about the current evidence, availability and access pathways for cannabidiol.

Visit recruitGP – the RACGP’s trusted, single source for general practice employment opportunities across urban, remote and rural Australia.

It’s free for RACGP members.

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.