A starker jolt than the New Zealand massacre we will hopefully not experience again. We unreservedly share our sympathies with those directly affected with the loss of loved ones. The tragedy brings into focus the role of tolerance and the need for inclusive diversity.

I read with interest over the past month the MBS review and a range of opinion pieces on how to fix everything that ails primary care.

Of course with an election looming, politicians’ ears will be primed for election promises and poised for damning political assessments of their opponents’ credentials and performance. Given the backdrop of New Zealand and the consequences of divisive, vitriolic discourse I sincerely hope the looming budget and electioneering demonstrates a return to principles that unite rather than divide.

The issues I read across a variety of platforms ranged from a lack of trust, a fragmented industry to competition and a lack of resources. The variety of issues and solutions had me in awe… so many opinions, so many solutions… why so difficult to fix?

As you start to unpick the various issues and solutions you start to see why our bureaucrats and politicians have a hard time landing the ultimate solution. If we cannot articulate and agree on solutions, how on earth can someone outside the profession expect to?

Take the call for a unified approach for example. We would all agree that messages to government are most potent when they are unanimous, such as the call to end the Medicare freeze or the #justagp twitter storm that erupted on the back of the interim MBS review report in 2016. It is clear that we can unite.

The challenge is remaining united when we each have our own particular interests and niche knowledge. Look at the diversity required to feed into the National Rural Generalist Pathway. All participants work in primary care, each with a particular niche piece of the puzzle.  We need a variety of stakeholder organisations, both large and small, to provide differing perspectives and be truly representative of our GP members. It’s how we choose to weave the tapestry together that will determine how well the final product looks and suits our profession.

Small organisations exist to fill a critical role. If the need did not exist, nor would the organisations. When I hear about the challenges faced by small business operating within GP training, I observe that small organisations like GPSA with niche focus serve an essential role. When our training practices approach other larger organisations, they might naturally assume they will be supported by them, sometimes to no avail.

The challenge for a consolidated singular bureaucracy is that it takes a long time to move a lumbering ship and be responsive to a massive and diverse membership. Meanwhile a practice, who needed support yesterday is not in a position to wait. Though it is not the intention of large bureaucracies not to assist their members, they can’t be all things to all people, all of the time… and if they tried, they would very quickly find that they were not operating coherently on a rational strategy their members identified with. Enter small niche organisations that are nimble and can serve a specific support role.

In directly supporting training practices and supervisors with often extraordinary circumstances, GPSA understands the degree to which members feel supported no matter how big or small the challenge they face is. That’s not to say GPSA is the only avenue of support available to training practices – we all have a role to play.

We need to be united, where it makes sense. Our diversity makes us stronger when we embrace and harness the roles we each play in delivering the very best for primary care.

We hope the role GPSA plays is important to you as a training practice.


Dr Gerard Connors
Chair, GPSA

Date reviewed: 22 March 2019

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