The Medical Republic asked the three candidates vying to become RACGP president to answer three questions, and provide a short candidate’s statement.
Follows is the response from Queensland GP Dr Bruce Willett.
What would be your approach to GP funding reform?
General practice has been progressively starved of funds over the past few decades. A “desk thumping” approach to higher rebates has repeatedly failed to deliver improvements in funding.
We will form strategic alliances, make the value case for general practice, and think innovatively. This is far more likely to produce positive outcomes. RACGP needs to work with consumer groups and ACRRM, AMA and RDAA.
- The ability to charge gap payments on bulk-billed patients. Dressings and procedure costs are the obvious place to start.
- “Equal pay for equal work”. GPs should receive the same rebate for doing the same procedures as other specialists.
- Consider different payment models.
- Reduce fragmentation of care by bring services back into general practice. Pharmacists should be working in our practices not competing with us.
Sophisticated, strong advocacy is key.
What is the biggest challenge for the RACGP in the next two years? How will you address it?
Member engagement and the return of training to the college are two main challenges.
The college needs to defend and strengthen the apprenticeship model of training in the face of pressure from cheaper online or classroom-based teaching. Supervisors and registrars need to be supported and nurtured though the process. For instance, while it would be difficult to fund, I would like to see registrars employed by a third party in the first three months of their general practice experience, while still able to bill Medicare to allow concentration on support and education without the financial pressure on the practice and registrar.
What are your ideas to improve membership engagement?
The RACGP is a membership organisation and needs to become more in touch with its base, its corporate structured needs to be very much focused on the membership. Suggestions include:
- Asking the membership what engagement and services they want and making member consultation a formal part of the RACGP’s decision making processes.
- Increased engagement with and support new fellows, New Fellows groups.
- Engaging with prevocational doctors.
- Exploring opportunities for the registrar teaching groups to be continued as post fellowship support groups as part of the RACGP.
- Fostering practice owners’ groups around the country.
- Feeding back to the membership the results of surveys and polls to allow the membership to better understand decisions and better explanation of how decisions are made.
I am practice owner and have 30 years in practice experience, with much of that as a supervisor. My experience includes time on the number of boards and work as a medical educator. I am the current Chair of RACGP Queensland (I have stepped aside from the position so as not to gain an unfair advantage during the presidential campaign).
I’m also the immediate past chair of the GP Supervisors Association. I am proud of my achievements as Chair of GPSA, my time as Deputy chair and chair GPSA. I secured funding for the first time, built network free and open resources of teaching aids. GPSA grew stronger, more effective, more connected and of more utility to its members. During my time as chair, I developed a very close working relationship with GPRA, and I led the campaign against the corporate becoming their own RTO – some seeking to bond registrars to work in them for years after completing training. With the support of the AMA and the RACGP, we were completely successful in preventing this potentially disastrous outcome.
I am experienced in advocacy with a proven track record, I would like to bring my experience to the RACGP. I love my work as a GP and I am proud of the positive impact GPs make on the lives of our patients.