Yesterday, the results were announced of the membership vote for the next president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. NSW GP Dr Harry Nespolon defeated two rival candidates, Queensland’s Dr Bruce Willett and Dr Jagadish Krishnan from Western Australia.
Dr Nespolon, who practises on Sydney’s Lower North Shore, was widely seen as a change candidate. He says he wants to see a cultural shift within the college: “It needs to move away from being an autocratic organisation to an organisation that does really care for its members”.
In interviews with the medical media and in an email mailout to RACGP members, he has outlined five key focuses for his term of office, which will start this October:
- GP funding
Dr Nespolon says this is the number one issue, and neither the AMA nor the RACGP has done enough to fix the rebate issue. He says the timetable on rebate increases is too slow and is unacceptable. He plans to lobby the government to allow GPs to charge a gap and directly bill the government for the rest.
“The simple reality is that if the government is not willing to support rebates to a level that allows for quality general practice, then patients will be required to make relatively small contributions towards the most important aspect of their lives, their health,” he told Australian Doctor.
- GP mental health
Dr Nespolon supports developing programs specifically targeting the mental health and well-being of GPs, addressing areas such as stress, burnout, depression and substance abuse.
- AHPRA’s complaints process
AHPRA needs to improve the way that it treats doctors when complaints are made against them if it is to maintain their trust, Dr Nespolon says. He says he will use his position to lobby for a less onerous and stressful complaints process.
He also says he is not in favour of the Medical Board of Australia’s plan for mandatory checks on doctors aged 70 and over. A more targeted approach is necessary, he says.
- Changes to PLAN
Dr Nespolon is opposed to the PLAN (Planning, Learning And Need) activity being a compulsory component of members’ CPD, although he concedes that this will require a vote of the RACGP Board and is not a change he can make himself.
- Getting GP training right
The RACGP is being handed back control of GP training. Dr Nespolon says it is crucial that the college gets this right and that it is “an embarrassment” that the college has not been in charge for such a long time.
He says he is in favour of a separate administrative structure for GP training that is at arm’s length from the day-to-day administration of the college. One solution, he says, might be to manage training through a wholly-owned subsidiary.