College is sticking to its PLAN

3 minute read

Despite the backlash, the RACGP remains confident it is on the right path with its CPD changes


RACGP President Bastian Seidel has vowed to press ahead with changes to GP education despite complaints from providers and members threatening to jump ship.

The backlash against a new compulsory QI activity has surprised the College leadership, even though the revamp of its continuing professional development program has been years in the making. Dr Seidel told The Medical Republic that the concept had been discussed for “donkey’s years”, but it was only now that the technology was available to support the new online tool.

Starting in 2017, the new CPD component known as PLAN –  Planned Learning and Need – will require doctors to answer 300 questions to assess their expertise across key domains of general practice and identify areas for improvement.

“There is a genuine rationale for PLAN as a reflective quality-improvement exercise,” Dr Seidel said.

“It’s a commonsense approach. It has been discussed by the RACGP for well over a decade now, and reflective activities in general practice are broadly supported by the profession and by doctors at large.”

By adopting PLAN at the start of the new triennium the College would be able to show it was taking concrete action to enhance CPD when the Medical Board came looking for evidence in June next year, he said.

Dr Seidel ruled out making changes to the model to reflect members’ concerns, but said PLAN would likely evolve over time and could possibly include a peer-review element in the future.

GP educators were shocked to learn at a meeting in November that PLAN would account for 40 points, half the Category One quota, and the RACGP would be the exclusive provider.

At the same time, the RACGP’s imposition of new fees for uploads of CPD points poses a threat to the viability of smaller non-profit providers, which could reduce the diversity of education offerings.

Among doctors, the main complaint is about a lack of consultation.

Some GPs say they will shift to ACRRM’s education program to maintain their vocational registration.

RACGP fellows who abandoned College membership would not be able to keep their post-nominal signifier, Dr Seidel warned.

High-profile defector Dr Linda Calabresi, medical editor of Australian Doctor, announced she would jump to the rural-oriented ACRRM, saying she’d be happy to be associated with a College that “works with its members rather than dictates to them”.

“The College says this online self-reflection activity will enable GPs to identify what areas of medicine they should brush up on and, more importantly, will allow the College to monitor and check whether what the CPD GPs are doing is fulfilling their knowledge gaps,” she wrote. “How patronising.”

Dr James Bricknell, a Queensland GP who practices exclusively in skin cancer medicine and surgery, is making the same move, saying he cannot imagine how PLAN could benefit him.

“I told (the RACGP) I have gone to enormous lengths to educate myself in my chosen area, spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars.

“I asked, is your PLAN activity going to be as robust as that?  And how will it direct me to improve? You are telling me that you have invented a 300-question activity that will direct me to deficiencies in my practice?”

Dr Ahad Khan, a sole practitioner in Glenbrook, NSW, is also bailing out.

The lack of consultation on the CPD changes was “the last straw”, after the RACGP had proven ineffective against the Medicare rebate freeze, he said.

“They really don’t represent GPs well. They don’t listen to us at the coalface, they don’t ask how can we help you,” Dr Khan said.

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