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RACGP NSW&ACT newsletter

4 December 2018

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Hello and welcome to the final newsletter for 2018.

It’s been a busy period for RACGP NSW&ACT, with intensive preparations for the OSCE resulting in a successful day of exams across four hospitals in Sydney and Canberra on Sunday 11 November. Across the state and territory, 272 candidates worked through 20 stations – an effort to be admired.

I’d like to both congratulate and thank the huge array of people involved in the day; the RACGP staff, examiners, and the clinical and quality assurance teams. This exam was one of our smoothest yet, and I’m looking forward to getting the results and welcoming our new Fellows to the profession.

With the end of the year approaching, it’s a good time to reflect on your practice and plan for the future. As the weather warms up, emergency response planning is especially important for events such as bushfires. This newsletter includes further RACGP resources and information to support emergency management in your general practice.

Finally, Christmas is on its way. The RACGP is here to support you as you wrap up the year, but will be closed from Friday 21 December 2018 until Monday 7 January 2019.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year with your families.

Chair message

Message from NSW&ACT Chair, Assoc Prof Charlotte Hespe

  • OSCE summary
  • Emergency response planning
  • Christmas wishes

Learning and development

Upcoming events

Event Date Location QI&CPD points
Understanding Cannabis
Medicines (Part 3)
Tuesday 4 December 2018 Online 2 Category 2
Skin cancer essentials Saturday 8‌ December 2018 Tamworth 40 Category 1
Seek to treat update Tuesday 11 December 2018 Online 2 Category 2
Medical receptionist course Thursday 28‌ February and Friday 1‌ March 2019 Byron Bay N/A
Wellbeing Weekend Saturday and Sunday 9–10‌ March 2019 Yamba 40 Category 1

NSW&ACT news and events

2018.2 OSCE exam

With 2018.2 OSCE done and dusted, we would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the examiners and quality assurance teams.

RACGP NSW&ACT was again the largest faculty, presenting a whopping 272 candidates to the exam, requiring 294 examiners, and 90 role-players and marshals to support the process. The exam was conducted at four venues, with rotations at YourGP@Crace (ACT), Royal North Shore Hospital, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and our newest venue, Blacktown Hospital.

Planning for the 2019.1 exam (to be held on Saturday 25 May) is under way.

RACGP holiday closure

The RACGP will be closed from 5.00 pm AEDT, Friday 21 December and will re-open 9.00 am AEDT, Monday 7 January 2019.

From all the staff at RACGP NSW&ACT, we wish you a wonderful festive season and a happy new year.

We would like to thank you for your support throughout the year, in particular the hundreds of members who have assisted in delivering the OSCE workshops, webinars and the many facilitators who assisted in delivering the very busy schedule of face-to-face events held throughout the state. Your contribution is sincerely appreciated by us all.


Incoming Council member interviews

Our RACGP NSW&ACT Council members are a wonderful resource – both for the work they’ve done for the RACGP and in their experiences as GPs.

To connect you to them as colleagues, and to share their reflections on the wonderful world of general practice, our NSW&ACT newsletter will now feature a brief profile of your incoming Council members.

This month, we interviewed Dr Anju Aggarwal and Assoc Prof Stephen Barnett.

Dr Anju Aggarwal

Initially, flexibility of time most attracted me to general practice, but after being in the profession for so many years, I find it to be so incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. I truly love every moment being a GP, especially now that my boys have grown up and I have more time to explore other adventures within the profession.

I would like to encourage more of our fellow members to be involved in RACGP activities, choosing useful activities in convenient areas to further expand our network. I hope to be able to address the issues affecting both my local area and general practice.

General practice is not without challenges and over the years I have learned to deal with any problem by breaking it into smaller parts, and by prioritising and planning. Following this method has motivated me to continue daily exercise and to pursue hobbies that I love doing.

I am an open book. Everyone comes to know about me very soon. 

Dr Anju (1)

Assoc Prof Stephen Barnett

I am a GP in Bowral, NSW, where I have practised for the last 17 years. I am an Australian graduate, but worked for several years in the United Kingdom (UK), where I initially started paediatric training in Oxford. I eventually realised that I was more interested in community medicine and did my GP training in beautiful rural Somerset, UK.

On my return to Australia, I joined my father’s general practice in Bowral, where I enjoyed working alongside my father for several years. Over the past 17 years, the practice has grown to 17 doctors and a great nursing team. I have enjoyed the balance of being a managing partner of a large group practice and being a clinician – I particularly enjoy paediatric work.

Over the past few years, I have become more interested in research and education, undertaking a PhD in online training for general practice registrars at the University of Wollongong, and developing this into Medcast, a medical education provider.

Some of my most memorable experiences have come from being involved with sick children and seeing them grow into healthy adults, as well as the long-term relationships built with many people in a small town.

I think the biggest future threats for general practice are being undervalued by government and the community, becoming fragmented, and funding models that perversely incentivise the practice of poor clinical medicine.

On the other hand, there is real hope that if we can get the right story together as a profession and translate that to government and community, and develop appropriate funding models, we can deliver an increasingly sophisticated and valuable service to the community, even as sub-specialties become more automated and commoditised … there is still the potential for a resurgence of the age of primary care.

A Prof Stephen

Wellbeing Weekend – Led by doctors, for doctors

Being a GP requires a lot of commitment, but how often do you commit time to yourself? The RACGP believes that healthy doctors can better care for their patients, which is why we are proud to invite you to our Wellbeing weekend at Angourie Rainforest resort.

Held from Saturday to Sunday 9–10 March 2019, the Wellbeing Weekend offers RACGP members the chance to re-energise and reflect on their careers. Hosted discussions will cover topics that affect doctors' health, including burnout, experiences of patient deaths, and how mindfulness can play a role in clinical practice.

Set in a beautiful seaside location, the program includes a range of activities such as yoga, surfing, beach walks and more. Intended to get you in touch with your colleagues and yourself, there will be plenty of opportunities for relaxed conversation and catching up.

The ‘Gaze and graze’ evening will showcase some of the region’s culinary delights, along with paired wines. Hosted at the Cunjevoi Bar, live music will combine with light refreshments made from local produce.

Take in the serenity with your partner, or bring the kids along and book a villa – the choice is yours!

Approved for

QI&CPD-Activity -Category -1_40-points

Find out more or register now.

National news and events

Do you have regular practice meetings? You may be eligible to meet your quality improvement requirement

Do you meet with other GPs or health professionals with the purpose of discussing clinical cases, near misses and the latest research?

If your meetings are set up in accordance with the Quality Improvement and Continuing Professional Development (QI&CPD) small group learning guidelines, you may be eligible for 40 Category 1 points and meet your quality improvement requirement.

For more information on the criteria for small group learning activities, please view the RACGP QI&CPD 2017–19 triennium handbook or contact our local QI&CPD team.

Webinar: Optimising outcomes when working with interpreters

3.30–4.30 pm (AEST), Wednesday 5 December 2018

Australia is an increasingly diverse society – close to a third of the population was born overseas.

Many patients presenting to GPs may not be proficient in English. GPs need to be comfortable working with interpreters and understand the importance of discouraging family interpreters. Using professional interpreters has been shown to improve patient satisfaction and compliance.

Presented by Dr Aesen Thambiran, Director of Humanitarian Entrant Health Service, and Khin Myo Myint, Burmese Interpreting and Translating Services, this complimentary webinar will assist GPs in:

  • reviewing the role of culture and language in the healthcare setting
  • discussing the importance of working with professional interpreters
  • reviewing how to get the most out of the consultation when working with an interpreter.

Register now.

RACGP John Murtagh Library holiday closure

The Library will be closed from 12.00 pm AEDT, Friday 21 December and will re-open on Monday 7 January 2019.

Please submit your requests for loans, articles and searches early to avoid disappointment.

You can access our ebooks, online databases and resources and ejournals directly at any time, day or night.

If you need help or guidance to access our resources before the holiday closure, please contact us via our online form, email or phone 03 8699 0519.

Best wishes for a safe and happy festive season from the team at the RACGP John Murtagh Library.

NSW Health updates

Simple strategies to reduce the risk of cytomegalovirus infection in pregnancy

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common herpes virus circulating in the community. CMV in pregnancy can result in infection that can harm the developing fetus. Some babies born with congenital CMV have hearing loss, epilepsy, intellectual impairment and/or cerebral palsy. In the most severe cases, CMV can cause stillbirth.

Pregnant women can use simple hygiene strategies to reduce their risk of CMV infection; unfortunately, most have never heard of CMV.

The international consensus guidelines in The Lancet ID recommend: ‘all pregnant women should be provided information on congenital CMV infection … [including] … potential dangers of CMV infection for the fetus, the most likely sources of infection, and steps to prevent infection’.

Universal CMV screening is not recommended.

Please view this new video outlining these simple messages. Captioned versions of this video, flyers and posters are available through Cerebral Palsy Alliance and CMV Australia. For additional information, please see the 2018 Congenital CMV RACGP webinar. 

Safety practices for the NSW Opioid Treatment Program

NSW Health recently undertook a safety review of the NSW Opioid Treatment Program, focusing on health practitioner safety practices. Practitioners who prescribe any potentially sedating medication should:

  • undertake and document comprehensive initial patient assessments
  • regularly assess and document safety discussions with patients (eg fitness to drive, concurrent substance use, takeaway dose suitability)
  • be aware that other health practitioners prescribe additional sedating medications
  • ensure good communication with patients and health practitioners regarding risks associated with concurrent prescribed sedating medication and other substance use.

The NSW clinical guidelines: Treatment of opioid dependence 2018 provides information regarding opioid substitution treatment.

The Drug and Alcohol Specialist Advisory Service (DASAS) is for health professionals in NSW who require advice on the clinical management of alcohol and other drug issues.

Older people and alcohol reduction … there’s a coach for that

Alcohol consumption and the short-term and long-term risks of harm are increasing for baby boomers and older generations in Australia. The 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that:

  • single-occasion risk drinking has been increasing for people aged between 50–64 in NSW since 2010
  • very high risk drinking (11 or more standard drinks) at least monthly increased significantly for people aged between 50–59 from 2013 to 2016
  • older people are more likely to drink every day.

The Get Healthy Service – A simple and easy referral source

The NSW Get Healthy Service can support your patients with reducing their alcohol consumption through free, personalised phone-based coaching.

The service is available to all NSW residents aged 16 years and older; however, those who are at greater risk of developing chronic disease are prioritised.

With the participant’s permission, you will be kept up to date with their progress throughout the service.

Visit the Get Healthy webiste for program results and referral forms. Referral forms are also included within Medical Director and Best Practice.

Do you need a Working with Children check?

Children’s health services are now fully phased into the NSW Working with Children check.

You need a Working with Children check if you treat people who are under 18 years of age in your private practice and there is not ordinarily another adult present when you provide treatment. This includes people working as sole traders.

Not all people working in children’s health services have to have a check.

If you are a health practitioner, you do not need a Working with Children check if:

  • you do not treat patients under 18 of age or you treat them for fewer than five days in a year
  • when treating someone under 18 years of age in private practice you are ordinarily in the presence of another adult (such as a parent, guardian or other health professional).

If you ever work with NSW Health or at a licenced private hospital or day surgery, you need to check with the human resources (HR) team or employee-screening unit.

In NSW, there is no card for a Working with Children check, so please keep your application email and your check number safe, and remember when it is due for renewal. You should provide your check number to your employer so they can verify you online. Doing this will make the link between you, the employer and the Office of the Children’s Guardian.

Sole traders with no employees need to provide their check number to clients or customers. This will usually be the parent or guardian of the child you are providing a service. In this case, the client is the employer and it is the client who is responsible for verifying the check online. 

You need to keep your details up to date. If you change your name, address or email please log onto the system using the exact information on your clearance email and update your details. You will receive a reminder when it is time to renew.

The check is valid for five years, after which time you need to renew. Do not reapply, just renew. After you renew, your employer needs to verify your check again.

External news and events

General practitioners screen their patients for atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias (GPSAFER)

Atrial fibrillation (AF) and other arrhythmias are common medical problems of increasing prevalence that are often identified and managed by GPs.

Researchers at University of Sydney are conducting an online survey to explore the views, knowledge and practices of GPs and registrars regarding cardiac arrhythmias. The information is important to health policy makers, education providers and professional bodies. We have obtained ethics approval from the University of Sydney (ethics approval number is 2018/740).

As a token of appreciation for completing this survey, your name will be placed into a draw for one of three $50 gift cards.

This research will contribute to the PhD studies of Dr Kam Wong (GP and Clinical Senior Lecturer). His supervisors are Professor Clara Chow (Cardiologist and Professor of Medicine), Professor Tim Usherwood (Professor of General Practice) and Dr Cindy Kok (Honorary Researcher).

Complete survey


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