November 2021

Chair report

Message from the Chair – Assoc Prof Charlotte Hespe

Congratulations again to all of you for playing such an essential role in achieving such remarkably high vaccination rates in NSW and ACT. As a result of our combined efforts, all fully vaccinated people have been able to resume a ‘COVID-normal’ life, and case numbers and hospitalisations have dropped significantly.

Despite this overall success, we still need to address vaccination gaps in vulnerable communities. One particularly vulnerable population is our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, which is lagging well behind the broader population statistics. The reasons for this are complex and include distrust of a health system that can be culturally unsafe and misinformation about the side effects and risks of the vaccine.

To help address vaccine hesitancy, the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation has co-designed an excellent resource to support culturally safe decision-making with and for First Nations people. You can access Finding your way, a shared decision-making model for the mob, to make health decisions together. The model consists of question-prompts for conversations with patients and short videos by Aboriginal health workers.

I strongly recommend you access these resources to lower the number of infections in these vulnerable communities and protect them from the very high risk that COVID-19 presents. And while you’re on the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) website, take a look at some of the other handy resources for GPs that are available free of charge!

A COVID- and lockdown-free Christmas is looking highly probable – particularly if we all continue to maintain the public health recommendations. We’ll need to continue using masks, hand hygiene and social distancing in the clinical setting (and in public). And, of course, the ongoing vaccination effort – both for the vaccine-hesitant and the rollout of boosters for everyone.

Please take care of yourselves and each other, and I look forward to delivering more positive news next month. 

Calendar of events

Calendar of events

Event Date CPD points
Difficult scenarios of common colorectal problems Wednesday 24 November 2021
7.30–8.30‌ pm (AEST)
COVID-19 vaccine rollout: Supporting diverse communities and vaccines for children Thursday 25 November 2021
7.00–8.00‌ pm (AEST)
COVID-19 vaccination update in NSW Tuesday 30 November 2021
7.30–8.30‌ pm (AEST)
Ophthalmology: Update on cataract, glaucoma and oculoplastics Wednesday 1 December 2021
7.30–8.30‌ pm (AEST)
COVID-19 vaccine rollout: Vaccine hesitancy and practice efficiencies Thursday 2 December 2021
7.00–8.00‌ pm (AEST)

Events in the spotlight

New Fellows Connect: Introduction to medicinal cannabis

Date: Tuesday 23 November 2021
Time: 7.30–9.00‌ pm (AEDT)
Venue: Online (Zoom)
Cost: Free
Host: Dr Teresa Towpik, GP

The next meeting in the New Fellows Connect series covers medicinal cannabis.

The benefits of medicinal cannabis are a hot topic among patients with various conditions. Join to gain a confidence in prescribing medicinal cannabis.
Register now


RACGP NSW&ACT: A new Council

At our annual faculty member meeting last month, Assoc Prof Charlotte Hespe was again elected Chair and Dr Michael Wright as Deputy Chair. Dr Mary Beth MacIsaac was newly elected to the position of Deputy Chair and the Council welcomed some new members:

  • Dr Natasha Feingold, New Fellows representative
  • Dr Komal Jaiswal, ACT representative
  • Ms Laura Mallett, medical student representative
  • Dr Luke Morphett, Northern Sydney region representative
  • Dr Subhasis Talapatra, RACGP National Faculty for GPs in Training representative
  • Dr Fiona Van Leeuwen, Hunter region representative

Supporting smoking cessation: A guide for health professionals

This second edition of Supporting smoking cessation: A guide for health professionals is the most comprehensive update and aligns the guideline with new modalities of smoking cessation. It incorporates GRADE (Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation), a new approach to assessing clinical evidence and drafting practice recommendations.

The guideline update on nicotine vaping products has been produced by the RACGP with financial support from the Federal Department of Health. 

2022 RACGP NSW&ACT Fellowship Ceremonies

The Fellowship ceremony is a chance to celebrate our New Fellows and formally recognises their hard work and dedication.

For 2022, we’ll hold a series of smaller ceremonies on the following dates:

  • 26‌ and 27‌ February 2022 (Canberra)
  • 26 March 2022 (Sydney)
  • 7 May 2022 (Sydney)
  • 3 September 2022 (Canberra)
  • 3 December 2022 (Sydney)

We hope it’ll be an enjoyable and unforgettable day for those who attend.

Register now.

RACGP resources to help you manage your billing

The RACGP has developed a suite of resources to support you to build and sustain a successful general practice and maintain work–life balance.

General practices operate as businesses, which have tailored, sustainable business and billing models to remain viable and continue to provide essential services to the community.

We encourage you to recognise your worth as medical specialists and implement billing strategies that appropriately remunerate GPs, practices and the provision of high-quality care.

Visit the RACGP website to read our position statement on billing for general practice services.

Payroll tax

All general practices have different business structures, and some of you may be considering if there are payroll tax implications for your practice.

Here are some links to information regarding common questions practice owners have about payroll tax implications:

You can find more information at Revenue NSW.

Webinar: Self-logging your CPD accredited activities (formerly category 1)

Dates/times: Thursday 18 November 2021, 10.00–10.30‌ PM (AEDT)
Monday 29 November 2021, 12.30–1.00‌ PM (AEDT)
Venue: Online
Cost: Free

You can log your participation in educational activities that aren’t accredited by the RACGP CPD program. This 30-minute webinar will show you how to claim for these on your myCPD dashboard.

Register now

National news

RACGP members confirm mandate to bring general practice training home to the college

Last night’s Annual General Meeting for the RACGP confirmed member support for bringing general practice training back to the college.

Some 91% of voting members supported the ordinary resolution (which required 50% member support). This means the RACGP Board and the profession-led training transition team are able to take the necessary actions to prepare for training to be delivered by the colleges from January 2023. One of the first actions will be completing and submitting a grant opportunity response to the Federal Government this month. If successful, this will be the basis of our direct-funding agreement with government to bring our training model to life.

New patient resources

The RACGP has developed some advocacy resources aimed at patients that highlight rising healthcare costs and the ongoing lack of investment in general practice.

We’ve produced a poster and patient fact sheet you can display in your practice that encourage patients to write to their local MP about these issues. We’ve also created a letter template you can pre-fill and give to patients.

Find out more on the RACGP website (member login required).

If you have any feedback on these or our other billing resources, email

Certificate of Primary Care Dermatology

Are your dermatology skills only skin deep?

Expand your skills in diagnosing and treating dermatological conditions, as well as recognising conditions that need urgent referral.

The RACGP’s Certificate of Primary Care Dermatology helps GPs and GPs in training increase their expertise and confidence when presented with dermatological cases in their practice.

The certificate consists of 25 online courses, a two-day workshop and a three-day clinical experience. Sign up per course or enrol for the whole certificate, saving $1125.

Proudly supported by Sonic Healthcare

Register now

Upskill with the Certificate of Primary Care Dermatology. Register now...

Digital technology in general practices

The use of digital technology in Australian general practices is constantly evolving and has gathered pace during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a sharp increase in the tools used to support remote patient care.

The RACGP is running a survey to understand the systems used in general practices, where future investment is needed, and the technology challenges faced by GPs and their teams.

From Monday 22 November 2021, we invite you and your team to complete our short (anonymous) survey to provide your insights and opinions.

Contact our Practice Technology and Management team at with any questions.

NSW Health update*

Help women prepare for pregnancy

Healthy eating, exercising and avoiding alcohol can help women prepare for a healthy pregnancy. General practice plays an important role in supporting women access services that support this.

The Get Healthy service offers six months of free health coaching with a dietitian or exercise physiologist. It helps women set goals, stay motivated and overcome barriers to improve their habits.

For women who are already pregnant, the tailored Get Healthy in Pregnancy program can support a healthy pregnancy and improve health outcomes for women and babies.

You can refer patients using referral forms in MedicalDirector and Best Practice or via the Get Healthy website

Health Outcomes and Patient Experience (HOPE) platform

The Agency for Clinical Innovation is working with districts/networks to implement the Health Outcomes and Patient Experience (HOPE) platform. The platform will enable real-time feedback from patients and carers to drive continuous improvement and shared decision-making.

Patient-reported measures (PRM) implementation is supported by a mixed method of face-to-face and virtual support, depending on patient need. GPs can access PRMs through HOPE to receive real-time patient feedback to guide care delivery. PRMs will transform the health system through improving health outcomes, quality of care, and the patients’ and clinicians’ experiences for receiving and providing care.

For more information about PRMs, visit the ACI website.

Aboriginal people at greater risk of COVID-19 due to lower vaccination coverage

Thanks to the tireless efforts of general practice, NSW has made significant progress in overall COVID-19 vaccination rates, reducing case numbers and hospitalisations and enabling many to enjoy freedoms not experienced in months. But lower vaccination coverage in Aboriginal people means renewed effort is needed to address barriers to vaccination and reduce increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

Proactive communication with Aboriginal people is required, and we encourage you to use the strategies listed on the NSW Health website to aid communication and address vaccination barriers.

Safety concerns about e-cigarettes

The use of e-cigarettes, particularly among young people, is escalating in NSW. Cases of nicotine poisoning have increased, and a case of e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury has been reported in NSW.

The National Health and Medical Research Council states that e-cigarettes are not harmless. Nicotine-vaping products should only be considered for smoking cessation after exhausting all other methods as outlined in the updated RACGP smoking cessation guidelines.
GPs should:

  • ask and record smoking and vaping status
  • advise those who smoke or vape to quit and recommend the most effective methods
  • help by offering to refer patients to the free phone-based counselling service NSW Quitline and iCanQuit.

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.