10 August 2021

College commits self-harm on CPD

Comment CPD

It beggars belief that the RACGP would support something that so smacks of revalidation.


Is the RACGP trying to destroy itself?

Recently health ministers signed off on a new CPD system. Judging by comments around the coffee machine at morning-tea time, this new proposal is deeply unpopular, so it beggars belief that the RACGP would come out and support these new changes. There simply is no logical reason for doing so. 

Let’s just take a step back and look at what is going on. I’ve been in general practice for 27 years, and I worked with senior doctors who started work back in the 1950s and who told me how good things were in the olden-days.

There seems to have been a trend over the past half-century of increasing government control. First came Medibank, which started interfering with the fees doctors charged. Then came Medicare, then the government started giving money to the RACGP, we had the vocational register (a list of names held by the government, not the profession), then training programs were transferred from the colleges to the government, then the government removed funding from the RACGP and it nearly went broke.

More recently we have seen the inexorable rise of government departments who go by acronyms such as BERT, the PRP, the PSR and AHPRA, all designed to ‘regulate’ and ‘control’ the profession. Now the profession is about to lose control of ongoing education. 

Make no mistake where the latter is going: it is towards the UK model of revalidation. The board may of course deny this, but the pattern is clear. The first step is to transfer control from the profession to the government. The second step is the government simply does what it likes. 

So why would the RACGP support this?

There was always an alternative path the College could have taken. It could simply have told AHPRA that the 130 point system, done over a triennium, was the gold standard that was supported by the profession, and given the RACGP is the largest medical college in the land, AHPRA would need to conform to the RACGP’s system. It could still do this if it chose to. 

There is little question there are other players in this Machiavellian game. AHPRA’s new system means that anyone can set themselves up as a ‘CPD home’. The new system breaks the RACGP’s monopoly over CPD and with that monopoly there have been membership fees of over $1000 a year, and lots of organisations want a piece of that pie. I personally know of four organisations planning to tally CPD points under the new system, and that is in addition to the AMA and ACRRM. Each of these organisations plans to offer something more than the RACGP – whether that be a better website or better in-house courses or simply lower fees. There is no question that all of these new CPD homes have a business model that involves growth, and every member that joins has likely left the RACGP. 

So why would anyone want to leave the RACGP? It was only a few short years ago that the college decided to introduce PLAN. Nobody really knows why it did this, but it was very unpopular and members let themselves be heard at the next presidential election.

AHPRA’s new system is PLAN on steroids. It involves self-criticism (sorry, reflection), it takes much more time, and there is no evidence that it will actually improve outcomes. Some doctors are going to leave simply because they are so annoyed that the RACGP is trying to introduce PLAN again. Some will leave because the RACGP didn’t even try to oppose the new model. Of course, it doesn’t matter where you go now, the CPD is the same, but at least these doctors are going to be saving over a thousand dollars a year. 

So if the new AHPRA model is going to be introduced regardless, why would the RACGP antagonise its current members by saying it supports this new model? Are they so out of touch that they actually believe most members support doing 150 hours of CPD per triennium? Do they think AHPRA will give them some sort of special favour in return for their support? Do they think fewer doctors will leave the RACGP for all the other CPD homes? None of these suggestions make any sense. 

As doctors, we have the interests of our patients at heart. I am not entirely convinced that AHPRA or any other government agency truly has our patients’ interests first and foremost. 

Dr James Moxham is a South Australian GP

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12 Comments on "College commits self-harm on CPD"

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jim kyriacopoulos
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jim kyriacopoulos
11 months 28 days ago
The RACGP’s, who over the last 6 years has increased their fees for “counting our points” from $400 to almost $1,000 a year for non-members. And then announce they have made a record profit. For the 25,000+ GP’s that’s $25,000,000. Do they need that much money to run the program? I thought they were a non-profit organisation or were supposed to be. I made enquiries into the cost of the CPD program but was told it can not be released for commercial reasons. What commercialise reasons? They have no competition and should be transparent to their members. So I complained… Read more »
Joe Kosterich
Guest
11 months 30 days ago

Sadly, the RACGP has a long history of not understanding that it exists to represent the interests of GPs to government , NOT, to deliver GPs to goverenment. In over 30 years only the late Dr Harry Nespolon, Dr Col Owen and Dr Peter Jospeh actually saw themselves as defenders of general practice and GPs

Dr Andrew Lane
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Dr Andrew Lane
1 year 5 hours ago
After taking in the new CPD requirements I felt despair, intense annoyance, anger, frustration and bewilderment. (no particular order) So I ask: Why is it that when something is meant to be so good for me, I feel so utterly crap? Why is it that the thing that is meant to support my learning and enthusiasm for my job, makes me just want to quit?? Just who are these people who think this is a good idea? There is a fabulous irony here. The very people who are demanding our self reflection are clearly incapable of their own, or they… Read more »
Doctor
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Doctor
1 year 13 hours ago

If the argument for CPD for gps stays, I think politicians and ministers all should follow CPD points of how to make a good country. They have the power to destroy life.

Mike
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Mike
1 year 13 hours ago

Well after my nearly 40 years of GP work here and overseas with vast experience and knowledge – to spend around two weeks of my year doing self examination of my work and study to get some CPD points – Look like its time to retire and help other in another less gestapo style environment.

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