The Medical Republic asked the three candidates vying to become RACGP president to answer three questions, and provide a short candidate’s statement.
First up is Sydney GP Dr Harry Nespolon.
1: What would be your approach to GP funding reform?
General practice is predominately funded by the Federal Government and the patient. Over the last 5 years and for the foreseeable future the government is unlikely to keep up with medical inflation let alone get the rebate to resemble an amount that enables general practitioners to consistently deliver high-quality care. Whatever goodwill existed between the government and general practice evaporated when the first rebate freeze was applied. The time has arrived for general practitioners to be able to charge a gap and bulk bill the government. This would enable patients to pay a much more manageable fee. Part of this strategy is weening people off the idea that general practice is “free” or “provided by the government”.
2: What is the biggest challenge for the RACGP in the next two years? How will you address it?
There are numerous challenges, the transfer of the general practitioners training to the RACGP is an enormous financial and organisation risk. I have already been involved in the integration of 5 organisations to form the largest and most successful GP Regional Training Provider. This extremely important transfer of training should be done separately from the current RACGP organisation to ensure that GP Registrars and Supervisors have an improved experience training the next generation of GPs. The RACGP like all the other specialist Colleges will again have control of its training program.
What are your ideas to improve membership engagement?
Membership engagement occurs at every time a doctor, whether a member or non-member deals with RACGP. Membership engagement is an attitude as much as it is a set of activities. To change the attitude requires a change in the culture which is set by the Board. There does need to be a change at the highest level of the organisation to move it to be a more service based approach. The first and most important step in improving membership engagement is have a Board that is responsive to the needs of the membership.
The RACGP has the ability and opportunity to be the best advocacy body for general practitioners and their patients. Unfortunately, for many general practitioners, the RACGP is viewed with suspicion and is not trusted. This should not be the case. Many decision made by the RACGP are seen as autocratic and do not pass the “Why this is making life better for general practice test.”
I believe that I do have the ability to start to change the way that the RACGP operates so that it becomes the organisation that GPs believe that it should be. This will start off by removing PLAN as part of the CPD program and changing the Board so that it is more responsive to the needs of our members.
Internal surveys apparently show that almost all members want the RACGP to be advocating for general practice. We need to start a program where the voice of general practice is not only heard but acted upon. I believe that I have the ability to bring about these changes. This why I ask you to Vote 1, Harry Nespolon (drharrynespolon.com).