January 2021

Chair report

Message from the Chair – Assoc Prof Charlotte Hespe

Welcome to my first report for 2021! I hope you’ve found some time for relaxation over the break, despite the ongoing stressors of renewed pandemic lockdowns and border closures.

The COVID-19 situation continues to change rapidly, and the holidays were a particularly difficult time for our Northern Beaches colleagues. It’s been heartening to see such a wonderful community response supporting the call for testing and social distancing. I’m relieved to see that the sacrifices they made have had such a huge effect on containment.

We should all stay updated with developments on a daily basis. You can do this easily by consulting the NSW Health COVID-19 updates page. Information and support specific to GPs is available via our RACGP COVID-19 webpage, which includes resources tailored to each state and territory; GPs in training; members in rural, regional and remote areas; culturally and linguistically diverse communities; and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

Though the numbers remain relatively low compared to the global situation, we must continue to follow COVID-19 infection-control practices and NSW Health advice on social distancing, contact tracing, and using telehealth whenever we can to stay on track with a total suppression target.

Contact tracing is still one of our most powerful tools. I strongly encourage you to install and use the Service NSW COVID Safe Business app to register all patients, staff and visitors entering your practice.

The next step and challenge will be the vaccine rollout – both to cover you as health workers and then for all our communities. The RACGP is working closely with Federal and state authorities during the planning phase, and we promise to update you regularly!

Despite COVID-19, RACGP NSW&ACT continues to provide members with all the usual services, and a number of upcoming initiatives may interest you. A particular interest of mine is social prescribing, and some great developments will come over the next couple of months – watch this space. We’ll also continue to provide wellbeing support and resources – look out for our conference scheduled for April.

Thanks again for the amazing work you all do to support your communities. Please stay safe and look after your physical and emotional health.

Here’s to working well throughout 2021. Let’s hope it is relatively ‘uninteresting’!

Calendar of events

Calendar of online events

Event: Date: QI&CPD points:
Suddenly I'm a leader: Conflict management and power struggles Tuesday 2 February
7.00–7.30‌ pm
CPD activity (2 points)
New Fellows connect – Let's talk about finances Wednesday 3 February
7.30–9.00‌ pm
Prescribing opioids and management of opioid dependence in general practice Tuesday 9 February
7.30–8.30‌ pm
CPD activity (2 points)
New Fellows connect – Care plans Wednesday 17 February
7.30–9.00‌ pm
COVID-19 update webinar  Monday 22 February
7.00–8.00‌ pm
Supporting children who are above a healthy weight Tuesday 23 February
7.30–8.30‌ pm
CPD activity (2 points)
Understanding cannabidiol Wednesday 24 February
7.30–8.30‌ pm
CPD activity (2 points)
International Medicine in Addiction Conference 2021 (IMiA21) Friday to Sunday
26–28‌ February 2021
Suddenly I'm a leader: Creating champions of change Tuesday 2 March
7.00–7.30‌ pm
Tuesday 2 March
7.00–7.30‌ pm
NSW influenza vaccinations update 2021 Tuesday 2 March
7.30–8.30‌ pm
CPD activity (2 points)
Get healthy in pregnancy Wednesday 17 March
7.30–8.30‌ pm
CPD activity (2 points)
Wellbeing weekend  April (TBC) CPD activity (TBA) 


Events in the spotlight

A coffee and five minutes – Help us improve the RACGP’s Practice THAT! podcast

We want to improve our Practice THAT! podcast series in 2021. Please complete this survey and tell us what you think.

The information collected will remain anonymous, and key results will be shared with you in the February Practice Manager email.

The survey closes on Friday 29 January 2021.

Take the survey.


COVID-19 support

Having a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place will help minimise risk of transmission in your practice. Submit your COVID-19 Safety Plan to access your QR code for contact tracing and other business resources.

The new year unfortunately started with new cases of COVID-19, renewed lockdowns and border closures. We’ll continue our efforts to keep you up to date with the most recent information on the constantly changing situation.

You can access COVID-19 resources, including:

Australian guidelines for reducing the health risks of drinking alcohol

The National Health and Medical Research Council has released the revised Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. These guidelines reflect the most recent and best available evidence on the health effects of alcohol consumption.

Access the guidelines.

Changes to domestic violence declarations under NSW tenancy laws

Under changes to NSW tenancy laws, a wider group of professionals are now able to support a tenant to escape domestic violence by making a declaration, including registered health practitioners (general or specialist registration), certain social workers and counsellors, and other professionals.

Review the details and application form for an adult and a child.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule changes from 1 January 2021

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS) was updated on 1 January 2021. You can access the summary of changes on the PBS website.

National news

RACGP Plus – Get even more from your RACGP membership

RACGP Plus is the new home for member benefits and rewards. RACGP Plus supports you and maximises the value of your RACGP membership, as well as offering discounts on automotive, travel, electronics, shopping and health and fitness. You can also access benefits and offers to help you while you work, including general practice services, equipment and supplies.

Visit RACGP Plus.

Treatment Skills training – Alcohol and Other Drugs GP Education Program


The Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Treatment Skills training enhances your ability to talk about AOD use with your patients, assess their readiness for change and determine an appropriate treatment plan.

You’ll be rewarded with a $1200 grant payment upon completion. To check your eligibility and apply, visit the AOD GP Program website or contact aod@racgp.org.au with any questions.

One-on-one library training sessions

Want to learn how to use the John Murtagh Library’s services and resources? Book a one-on-one training session, tailored to your needs.

The 45-minute sessions will use screen-sharing to cover:

  • using library databases, ebooks etc.
  • navigating the library website/resource
  • searching for literature using a ‘topic of interest’ or a research question.
Contact the library to arrange a session or submit a request via our online request form.

NSW Health update*

Support your patients to drink less alcohol

The Get Healthy Alcohol Program provides evidence-based health coaching to support people to reduce their alcohol intake. Free support is provided, over the phone. The program is for people drinking at moderate to risky levels. It’s not for those drinking at dependent levels. Participants are matched to a university-qualified health coach with specialised training in alcohol reduction who provides non-judgmental health coaching and practical tools. Participants receive four coaching calls but can re-enrol if they need ongoing support. With your patient’s consent, feedback will be provided back to you. Referral forms are available on Medical Director and Best Practice.

Support your patients to get healthy during pregnancy

The Get Healthy in Pregnancy Program has successfully provided women with evidence-based health coaching since 2016. Participants are matched with university-qualified health coaches for free support over the phone. Coaches set goals with women to meet nutrition and physical activity recommendations, not drink alcohol, access support to quit smoking and achieve a healthy gestational weight gain. Pregnant women receive up to 10 calls, which can continue after the baby is born. With your patient’s consent, feedback will be provided back to you. You can find referral forms in MedicalDirector and Best Practice and on the Get Healthy website.

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.