6 June 2018

One college to rule them all?: GPDU18


Should we have one, two or three colleges for GPs. GPDU18 asked the question at its inaugural conference last week.

You know when you get that call from a conference organiser and you’re excited because you’re getting an invite to be on an ‘expert’ on a  panel at a pretty cool conference, with a whole lot of other high-level influencers?  (To be honest, I don’t get those calls).

And then you’re told what the panel topic is. You gulp and reach for your iPhone calendar, praying you have something else on so you can politely decline without having to make something up.

That must of been the feeling when some got the call to participate on GPDU18’s  “One, Two or Three Colleges” panel debate last week. Only the brave accepted this invite, and surprisingly, GPDU18 did manage to snag a few bigwigs from one or other of the colleges. Of course some of the major players just couldn’t actually make it as their iPhone did have some important things on, like the birth of a child, in the case of RACGP president Dr Bastian Seidel.

But this is a question that you in many circumstances you just don’t ask. It’s not polite. There is a lot of complexity and trauma, much of it from the past which is still rumbling close to the surface, so in most instances, you need to leave it alone. GPDU, in their evolving manner of wanting to understand difficult issues just a little better, decided not to leave it alone. But then they designed their  debate protocols in a considered and respectful manner so people could have a good think about the various views out there currently without too much angst.

Dr Liza Lack, National Clinical Lead General Practice Education at Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners,  made the trip across the Tasman and took up the offer to argue for the one-college option.

My theory is that Dr Lack may have a better perspective on the issue, not having been involved in the history of ACCRM and the RACGP. And she has the advantage of distance on an issue like this. That and she’s a Kiwi. Kiwis, living where they do, tend to have a much better sense of community and common purpose. It’s something about living in smaller and tighter communities. It happens in all walks of business with New Zealanders, too. It’s only in the rugby that they want to really rumble.

At the beginning of the debate the GPDU admins were clear that they wanted a considered and respectful look at the various issues. Although announcing initially they would take a vote, that apparently, was just moderator humour. But The Medical Republic did poll the room based on that just to see the mood and the result is below. GPDU wasn’t happy we did a poll as it didn’t consider it would add anything positive to the debate.

Ah, I hear you think. Small sample. And it’s GPDU-goers only. Is that GP sample bias, I wonder? I did overhear someone saying the conference was full of “alt-left, hippie, tree-hugging, Guardian readers…” That person got quite a shaking-down from the GPDU admin they made the comment to.

There were about 200 GPs in the room where the poll was conducted. The average answer to Slido questions in the room was over 100. So a lot chose not to answer the question for some reason. Read into that what you will. And note, GPDU did not actually sanction this survey being taken. It was done mistakenly by the organisers, TMR.

But we guess it’s food for thought enough for us to run the same survey to all the GPs on our email list, which you can do at the end of this article.

In the meantime, The Medical Republic is going to run videos of the “for” and “against” speakers so you can make your own decision. Today we have Dr Cameron Loy, Chair of RACGP Victoria,  for the “one-college” team. At least we think he is for that option.

Please remember if you are listening to any of the doctors debating in these videos, they did not get to choose which side they were on. Personally, they might not hold the view they are arguing. So don’t blame them if you’re not quite on side with what they say.

If we’d managed to get the RACGP’s Dr Bastian Seidel or ACRRM’s Dr Ruth Stewart to attend or accept, we at The Medical Republic would almost certainly have put them on the two-colleges and one college teams, respectively to see how they argued. But we aren’t GPDU.

On Friday’s email newsletter you will hear from the RNZCGP head of education and training, Dr Liza Lack.

If you want to put your own vote into the poll and improve the sample size and diversity, please be our guest and CLICK HERE. It only takes a second. Presumably, we will get some Alt Right voters to even out the sample bias.

If you want to see more of GPDU18 we will be loading videos of sessions week by week at GPDU’s website at www.gpdu.com.au. There were some cracking sessions.


In the original version of this article, we got a few things wrong badly. We got Dr Liza Lack’s role in the RNZCGP incorrect, we failed to mention that Dr Cameron Loy is Chair of the RACGP Victoria, and we intimated that Dr Bastian Seidel declined to attend, when he could never accept because his wife was due to give birth when GPDU was on. We also got the tone a little mixed up between GPDU and TMR. This is not an article that GPDU sanctions and it had no input into this article. TMR apologises for and regrets these errors and for not making it clear in the original article that this was a TMR-only piece and that the poll was TMR’s idea, not GPDU’s.