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Family Doctor Week 2014 – wrap up

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Late July we saw another AMA Family Doctor Week come and go.

The week always passes quickly, but I am glad that we make the time as a profession to remind ourselves and the community about the important role we play in the lives of our patients and in delivering high quality care in local communities. It also allowed us to highlight key issues affecting general practice, and to put forward positive ideas to support the delivery of even better services to the community.

This year Family Doctor Week was celebrated with the theme Your Family Doctor – Keeping You Healthy.

The theme had a strong focus on the importance and value of preventative medicine and, throughout the week, the AMA highlighted the benefits of having a regular GP. The AMA discussed preventable health issues and the importance for people to know and discuss their risk factors with their GP.

To assist general practices in educating patients, the AMA developed a video for practices to play in their reception rooms covering a number of key health conditions. It is still available for download from the Family Doctor Week website (familydoctorweek2014), and I would encourage you all to make use of it.

The highlight of the week was the AMA President’s address to the National Press Club of Australia, where he tackled claims that the health system is unsustainable and highlighted the pivotal role played by GPs in our health system.

It was a great opportunity to emphasise the threats to general practice and health care in this country from policies that are more focussed on returning the budget to surplus than supporting quality health care.

The Government’s proposed model for co-payments needs to be overhauled completely and reforms to GP training, including the loss of the Prevocational General Practice Placements Program, require a strong response so that we do not lose professional control of our specialty.

It was also great to see three past AMA presidents, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, Dr David Brand and Dr Steve Hambleton, attend the speech – each a GP. 

GPs are providing high quality, affordable and easily accessible comprehensive health care, and for more than 20 years the AMA has celebrated this during Family Doctor Week.

I am proud to be a GP, and I know we are making a difference to our patients each and every day of the year, and Family Doctor Week is just one demonstration of the AMA’s support for our profession and our patients.