Are we there yet?!

The transition of GP training from the RTOs to a College-led model has dominated sector conversations for what seems a very long time; however, with February just around the corner, time is fast running out to ensure we are all set for the new era of training.

Is this all we should be worried about?

It’s easy to be distracted by the negativity surrounding us, but I’m yet to meet a GP who took on the supervision of a registrar because it was “easy”. As supervisors, our role is to transfer our passion for quality and continuity of patient-centred care onto the next generation of GPs, regardless of political or economic pressures, major changes in the GP training model or even a little thing like a pandemic! This means we need to be focusing on solutions rather than being dragged down by the many challenges and threats the profession is currently facing. To this end, the power of one is real. You as an individual have a voice through GPSA: a voice given volume by this community of practice we are working to support through innovative networking opportunities underpinned by new and improved systems.

Right now, we are ensuring your voice is present in discussions about the transition, and in our review of the NTCER with GPRA. We are speaking on your behalf at sector stakeholder fora like the meetings of the General Practice Training Advisory Council (GPTAC) and the National Council of Primary Care Doctors (NCPCD), and frequent meetings with ACRRM, RACGP and the Department. We have also started working with the Workforce Planning and Prioritisation (WPP) organisations to contextualise their reports on training needs and capacity with your localised narratives; and we speak regularly with the CEOs of the RTOs to ensure nothing slips through the cracks in the transition, noting that GPSA has been offered the regionally-based training modules and other resources developed by these organisations so we can provide our members with ongoing free and open access to these valuable materials.

A big concern for us has been how GPSA can best support supervisors and practices to make the transition as seamless as possible and keep the sector focused on sustainability of the profession to guarantee continuity and stability in GP training. Taking our role of conduit quite literally, we have devoted a lot of our resources to providing you with regular transition updates via webinars, e-newsletters, social media and links on our website; we have also been madly reviewing new College policies, guidelines and handbooks specific to the supervision of vocational GP trainees, determined to minimise the burden on our members – and maximise the attractiveness of GP training – under the new regime.

We recognise our work in this space has only just begun, and will continue devoting significant time and energy throughout the next triennium to hold the Colleges to account as the new custodians of GP training in this country. But what we need in order to maximise our efforts going forward is your contribution, your questions and feedback and requests for our input. In 2023, we will be introducing a forum-based website to create easily accessed channels of communication for our members to connect with us, with the Colleges and DOHAC, but most importantly with each other. GPSA has a voluntary Board of Directors and a very small number of paid staff; we are a not-for-profit organisation that exists for the benefit of its members, so we really do need the connection with you we are planning for this new platform and implore you to be active in the community this will help to enhance.

In the meantime, we are still trying to get a solid handle on a few of the new concepts to better prepare you for 2023, like RACGP’s Work-Based Assessments (WBAs). At this stage we can confirm that the WBA program will be implemented progressively across 2023 and 2024. There will be a soft rollout of the program with the first assessment not due until the middle of the first GP term. The assessments are very similar to those currently being completed by supervisors in existing programs. The RACGP teams in each region will provide education and support for supervisors about the WBA program.

While we had a Q&A-style webinar on the National Consistent Payment (NCP) framework with DOHAC’s Martin Rocks in mid-November, we are only now being presented with how each College will apply the Flexible Funding that will top up the NCP payments. ACRRM will deliver a webinar with us on their Flexible Funding model on 15th December to explain their priorities and how supervisors, practices and registrars will be able to access these funds.

Still on the subject of webinars, if you’re one of the many struggling to register for practice / supervisor payments under the NCP (even after the two webinars GPSA ran in November, plus the FAQs we developed, to tackle the confusion), Services Australia has accepted our request to do a live walk-through of the PRODA and HPOS processes for our members, which we will of course record and make available for those who can’t attend. Carla is just awaiting confirmation of the date, but will make certain this happens this side of Christmas (and will let you know once this date is locked in).

So it’s not all doom and gloom in general practice, as we found in October at the ACRRM/RDAA RMA22 conference. For the 1500+ RACGP members in Melbourne for the last weekend in November, three years without large-scale face-to-face events made GP22 extra special too.

Current GPSA Chair Dr Kevin Arlett with former GPSA Chair (current RACGP President) Dr Nicole Higgins and former Board member Dr Alan Leeb at GPSA’s GP22 booth

Despite the temptation to wander further into the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to check out the other conferences (one in particular), the turn-out was great and the energy high as we took the opportunity to chat within the same postcode and without the computer screens!

Amongst the many topics of interest at GP22, personally I’d rank CPD right up there. From 2023, the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) is changing CPD for all doctors, in all disciplines, across Australia. Moving from a points-based to a time-based model, three new CPD activity types will need to be covered in 50 hours per annum:

In response to these changes and our advocacy around reducing burdens for GP supervisors, the College is looking at opportunities for primary supervisors to have our supervision work recognised as significantly fulfilling the new MBA requirements in terms of CPD hours. We are also working with both Colleges to have participation in GPSA research and attendance of our webinars / workshops automatically applied as CPD, which will be helpful for secondary supervisors and anyone not supervising a registrar in 2023 too.

I can’t mention GP22 without acknowledging the GPSA team there with me – Carla Taylor (CEO), Leonie Chamberlain (COO), Jane McMahon (Admin), Karen Andrews (Governance), Lachlan Butcher (Member Services), Dr Samia Toukhsati (Research), Dr Simon Morgan (Education), Dr Justin Coleman (my fellow Board member) and Dr Nicole Higgins (my predecessor!). If watching Nicole step into the role of President at the RACGP AGM was an honour, I’ve yet to find the words to describe how it felt to listen to Simon and Justin hammering out the crowd favourites as members of the all-doc band at the conference dinner!

As December kicks in, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a rewarding, enjoyable, stress-free New Year.

Date reviewed: 01 December 2022

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