October 2021

Chair report

Message from the Chair – Assoc Prof Charlotte Hespe

Let me start by congratulating all of you on the fantastic job you’ve done in acting so rapidly to achieve our stunning COVID-19 vaccination rates! Once again, we’ve vividly demonstrated the crucial role of GPs in managing the pandemic and, indeed, in any disaster or emergency.

In New South Wales, we’ve started rolling back restrictions and must now navigate the gradual relaxation of stay-at-home orders and what that means for the vaccinated and unvaccinated. We’ll likely receive requests for vaccination-exemption certificates, but please note that only a few medical exemptions enable us to issue a valid certificate. I encourage you to take the opportunity to chat with your patients about their barriers to getting vaccinated and actively encourage them to get vaccinated as soon as possible rather than risk being infected with COVID-19 while unprotected.

RACGP NSW&ACT continues to advocate for the inclusion of GPs in current and future state/territory and federal models of care for patients infected with COVID-19 (acute and post-infection). Leaving GPs out of the loop isn’t good for our patients and is unsustainable for the health system in the longer term.

I also encourage you to maximise use of telehealth items, as using telehealth minimises the risk of spreading the virus. If you’re currently only using your phone for telehealth, consider giving video a go! In my experience, video wins hands down over the phone for both the quality of care we can deliver and the consultation experience for both patient and doctor (or nurse).

When a face-to-face consultation is essential, make sure you use personal protective equipment as directed by the NSW/ACT risk-management frameworks.

Look after yourselves and your families, and let’s all look forward to a COVID-normal Christmas this year.

Calendar of events

Calendar of events

Event Date CPD points
What is the NSW Health outpatient upcoming initiative? Wednesday 17 November 2021
7.30–8.30‌ pm (AEDT)
Difficult scenarios of common colorectal problems Wednesday 24 November 2021
7.30–8.30‌ pm (AEDT)
COVID-19 vaccination update in NSW Tuesday 30 November 2021
7.30–8.30‌ pm (AEDT)
Ophthalmology: Update on cataract, glaucoma and oculoplastics Wednesday 1 December 2021
7.30–8.30‌ pm (AEDT)
A 2021 update on common ear, nose and throat problems Tuesday 7 December 2021
7.30–8.30‌ pm (AEDT)

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



New NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation resources: Shared decision-making resources for Aboriginal communities

Make use of Finding Your Way: A Shared Decision Making Model for Mob to make health decisions together with your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

The resources include:

  • an interactive model and question-prompt to print and display/distribute or download on mobile devices
  • short videos by Aboriginal health workers and a GP describing the model.

These resources have been developed with the support of the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation to address concerns about lower levels of vaccination and rising COVID-19 infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Provision for image-based prescribing has been extended

The temporary provision permitting NSW pharmacists to dispense certain prescriptions based on an image of the prescription received by email or fax has been extended for another 12 months up to 30 September 2022.

The image of the prescription must be provided directly to the pharmacist, and Schedule 8 and Schedule 4 Appendix D medicines remain excluded from this provision.

Find out more.

New national syphilis campaign

The Department of Health has launched a national ‘Don’t Fool Around With Syphilis’ campaign to raise awareness of the current outbreak of infectious and congenital syphilis across Australia.

You can help promote the campaign using the resources kit, which includes:

  • social media assets
  • fact sheets and posters in print-ready and electronic formats
  • FAQs about syphilis and the outbreak
  • discussion guides to use when communicating about syphilis.
Access the campaign resources.

New Closing the Gap PBS script measure

The Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) co-payment program has expanded and now operates under a new national system.

The system for client CTG registration is run by Services Australia and operates online through Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). CTG registration is virtually real time and no longer occurs by completing the PIP Indigenous Health Incentive form.

For enquiries about the system and HPOS, phone 132 290 or visit the Services Australia website. You can access Health Professional Education Resources, including CTG eLearning modules, from Services Australia.

You can find more information on the changes in the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation fact sheet.

National news

General practice training on track to return to the colleges in 2023

Our work on bringing general practice training back to the RACGP continues gather pace. In late September, the Department of Health recommitted to returning training to the colleges in early 2023 and expressed confidence in the RACGP to deliver a training model equal to such a significant government investment.

We’ll submit a grant opportunity response later this year detailing our model, its alignment with the government’s outcome framework, our implementation plan and our proposed budget. In the meantime, we’ll continue to work closely with general practice training stakeholders, including regional training organisations, to ensure a smooth transition.

Member Federal Election advocacy resources

Help us advocate for general practice reform in the lead-up to the next Federal Election by making use of our new suite of grassroots advocacy resources.

The RACGP is calling on the Federal Government to invest in more time for quality care. Patients receive limited support to spend the necessary time with their GP. As a result, out-of-pocket costs are skyrocketing, hospitals are becoming overwhelmed and our most vulnerable patients are being put at risk.

Email us at healthreform@racgp.edu.au to discuss the resources and get support for your grassroots advocacy.

RACGP Mentoring Program 2022: Support and guidance from a seasoned colleague

The RACGP’s Mentoring Program is an exciting opportunity for GPs to build a relationship with a seasoned colleague. The program helps GPs to seek support, guidance and advice on tackling a career in general practice, with a focus on wellbeing, collegiality and career development.

Places are limited, so register your interest now to find out when applications open in November 2021.

RACGP Mentoring Program. Find out more...

RACGP survey: Compliance education resources

The RACGP is seeking feedback from GPs at all stages of their careers on educational resources to help you bill Medicare correctly and meet your compliance obligations.

Complete this short survey on the value of existing compliance resources and topics you want covered in future resources. We’ll provide de-identified feedback to the Department of Health to help develop resources that meet your needs.

The survey takes approximately 5–10 minutes, and all responses remain anonymous.

This Rural Life

The RACGP has launched a new digital project to inspire more GPs to consider a career in rural practice and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

This Rural Life shines a spotlight on rural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs at all career stages by sharing their incredible stories. It’ll be a living project, and GPs across the country are invited to contribute.

Visit the RACGP website to share your story find out or more.

This Rural Life. Celebrating GPs working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. RACGP

NSW Health update*

Real-time prescription-monitoring system SafeScript NSW available from late October

From late October, prescribers and pharmacists in the Hunter New England and Central Coast (HNECC) regions can access SafeScript NSW.

SafeScript NSW provides prescribers and pharmacists with real-time information about a patient’s prescription history for certain high-risk medicines to help improve clinical decision-making and patient safety.  

To get started:

Prescribers and pharmacists outside of HNECC regions will be invited to register in the first half of 2022.

Find out more

First Aboriginal COVID-19 vaccination milestone reached, but a gap remains

Thanks to the contribution of general practice, half of all eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW have received their first COVID-19 vaccine. With restrictions easing, we must make sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aren’t left behind in double-dose targets.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have increased risk of acquiring and developing serious illness from COVID-19, yet vaccination rates lag non-Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still require priority vaccination.

NSW Health recommends:

Integrated care emergency-department-to-community initiative

The integrated care emergency-department-to-community provides tailored intensive case management and specialist care to clients in the community, improving their health and reducing the need for hospitalisation.

By enrolling eligible patients in the initiative, you can enable a coordinated, person-centred approach with input from multidisciplinary teams. This approach helps links patients to services that meet their needs, including access to primary care.

The initiative will be launched across all local health districts in 2022.

To find out more about this initiative, visit NSW Health Integrated care

GPs can play a vital role in improving outcomes for people with risky alcohol and other drug use

For people experiencing harm from alcohol and other drug (AOD) use, feeling judged by healthcare services can create a vicious cycle of not seeking help in a timely way due to shame and fear of being judged again – then only seeking help when desperate. Every encounter a person has with a GP influences their future willingness or ability to seek help before they get to a crisis stage.

A new report published by NSW Health examines healthcare workers’ attitudes, beliefs and behaviours towards people experiencing harm from AOD use and suggests strategies for reducing stigma and discrimination.

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.