A chat with our president 

College News
11 February 2019

Questions about regular practice reviews and advanced competencies were put by members to the new College President, Sam Murton, during a webinar held last Thursday [7 February] This is the first in a series of webinars Sam wants to hold for members.

With close to 50 members online, the topics raised were varied, but there was a lot of interest in MCNZ’s proposed changes to CPD/CME requirements, and there were also lots of questions about GPs’ ability to retain autonomy over their work.

Sam started the webinar with a quick summary of the Board’s recent strategy planning day:

“It was a really positive environment and positive conversation… we talked through the reason for the College, what we are intending for the future, and what our strategy is.”

She noted the College’s primary role is to set standards and quality for general practice, delivering Fellowship, and meeting Medical Council requirements. But she said, above and beyond that, members and the sector both expect great things from the College.

“I’d like to feel that we can focus on doing some of the jobs that are expected of us, hence all the meetings I’m having in the next little while to talk with people to see how things are going from the wider sector point of view, but also for you guys to talk to me so we can keep the conversation open.”

Sam said the Board is currently recruiting for a new College CEO, with the goal of having a shortlist by mid-March. The Board is also looking to appoint two more Board members who can bring specific skills to the group. She reassured listeners that the mood around the College seemed positive, that people sound enthusiastic, and there was good heart amongst staff.

Sam reflected on her recent meeting with Heather Simpson – who is heading the Health and Disability System Review: 

“We talked about how we have GPs at different ends of the spectrum. She [Heather] has no view about what the structure of general practice will be – but she wants to garner opinion. We need to keep talking… and be assured this is not about changing general practice business models – that’s not the agenda. The agenda is how we can support primary care,” says Sam. 

“The plan is for a lot more investment in our sector [at this point Sam showed attendees her drawing of the three tiers of healthcare funding]. She explained Heather refers to ‘tiers’ rather than primary, secondary and tertiary care – because tier one is broader than a nurse and a GP – it includes other professionals, like community nurses.

“No one is saying the GP business model is wrong, but it needs support so it can flourish. I think that what will happen is tier one piece of the pie will get a lot bigger.” 

Sam encouraged GPs to visit the website systemreview.health.govt.nz and contribute ideas.

She talked about her upcoming visit with the Health Minister, which is an introductory meeting where Sam can talk with the Minister where, “I can tell him about what we’re trying to achieve, in a positive, sustainable way… Compared to overseas, our primary care funding is still on a low rung, and that needs to improve.”
Following this, Sam clarified the potential changes to the CPD requirements, as directed by the MCNZ’s new recertification framework.

She assured attendees that the College’s CPD team is well qualified, organised and ready to respond to the council’s requirements. She confirmed the team will make sure any new programme meets MCNZ’s and members’ needs, so that the CME is about their everyday practice – and that it works well for members, rather than being a burden. She clarified the MCNZ sets the framework and principles, and that the College develops the programme keeping members needs in mind.

One of the attendees asked whether she thought regular practice reviews (RPRs) would be introduced. She acknowledged that a mandatory RPR wouldn’t be universally welcomed, but she said there is value in them. She said RPRs are likely to be option, not mandatory. Following on from this, she clarified the difference between approved/accredited CPD providers, and the CME activities members attend.

Sam also answered questions about practice owner/GPs’ autonomy, pay parity, advanced competencies – like skin cancer, palliative or aged care specialties. She mentioned the College is continuing to talk with Health Workforce New Zealand about GP trainee numbers, with the College continuing to advocate for more training places.

“We don’t have the exact numbers confirmed yet, but we’re still trying to get the 300 through.”

Finally, she explained the CORNERSTONE® simplification pilot would start in April, with a view to introduce the new programme in October.

“Once we’ve got the simplification sorted out, and we make sure it runs seamlessly for practices, we’ll start rolling it out… we’ll keep you updated regularly on this.”

After forty-five minutes of non-stop updates, Sam thanked attendees for their time and encouraged them to keep listening and contributing. “I hope I can do you proud. I will keep listening to what you have to say. Thank you.”

Sam plans to run webinars on a regular basis, so keep a look out in the College’s weekly newsletter ePulse for details of the next one.

Member feedback:

“Sam, it’s so good to have a president talk to the people. You won hearts and minds. An excellent initiative too – is the this first of many? It should be.”

“Please extend my appreciation to Dr Murton for the informative session. It was great seeing her enthusiasm and hear about her active involvement in improving General Practice funding, making the GP registration process more user friendly and relevant to our practice and much more. At the end of her talk, I felt very much assured of that she is going to carry out the vision of improving general practice for all as well as providing great leadership to us GPs, so many thanks for the work she and you all put in.”

Sam’s book recommendation:

Quackery – Lydia Kang

Webinar recording