Educators fuming over college move

4 minute read

The RACGP’s decision to take a mandatory education component in-house has prompted an outcry


GPs and medical educators have accused the RACGP of predatory and anti-competitive tactics that could damage non-profit education providers under its new QI&CPD regime.

A meeting in Sydney last week to explain CPD rules for the new triennium saw an outpouring of concern over new provider fees and the college’s decision to take a mandatory education component in-house.

“A lot of organisations there were quite traumatised because no one had heard about these changes before the last few weeks,” a major education provider representative, who attended the orientation session, told The Medical Republic.

“People had assumed any new changes would be incremental and went ahead with staff allocations and demand forecasts.”

Providers will be required to pay a $2 fee each time they report a CPD activity by a GP – or $4 a time if the upload is more than 30 days after the event – a potential deal-breaker for non-profits and charitable organisations.

“It appeared (the RACGP) hadn’t thought things through,” the major provider representative said.

“As a commercial operator, I don’t want to pay the $2 upload fee. But I can afford it and I suppose operators will pass on some of the costs to GPs.

“In a way, it’s a gift because you’re eliminating a certain proportion of my competition. But it’s not good for the profession.”

Not-for-profits, charitable groups and PHNs at the Sydney meeting said they stood to lose between $50,000 and $10,000, he said.

“NGOs are unable to budget for this, and often it’s those operators who run on a shoestring that cover topic areas that GPs need and which commercial operators tend to avoid.

“Essentially, this will favour education backed by sponsors.”

A smaller education provider said the fees would “punish us for our success”.

“We don’t work with pharma companies, and when you quote a price for a program, you don’t know how many people will do it. So if a program is popular, then costs will have to passed back to the non-profit sponsor,” he said.

A GP and medical educator at a non-profit organisation told TMR she left the one-hour meeting fuming at the college’s “money grab” and a lack of assurances about a new compulsory requirement for GPs to report their self-assessed strengths and weaknesses.

The online tool called PLAN – for Planned Learning and Need – is the key element of the QI revamp for 2017-19.

Doctors will be asked to rate their expertise across key components of general practice to help them identify CPD areas to direct their learning.

The compulsory activity, to be run exclusively by the RACGP as a 40-point Category 1 item, has been criticised by providers because it will remove half the Category 1 education market.

“The behaviour is anti-competitive and predatory,” the GP said.

“The RACGP has a screaming conflict of interest because it is supposed to act in the interest of members.

“But it is competing for their business, collecting information about what GPs think they need and grabbing money off them.”

RACGP President Bastian Seidel said he was taken by surprise by the responses and had not had any complaints from the non-profit sector about any of the changes.

The adoption of PLAN had nothing to do with business decisions and market share, he said.

“The purpose of PLAN was to introduce an evidence-based reflective activity that is going to be in line with what the Medical Board of Australia wants to see when it comes to enhancement of CDP in view of revalidation processes.”

Dr Seidel said the accreditation program for education providers had always carried a fee, and the college was continuing to operate it at cost.

After leaving it unchanged for some time, the Council had decided to adjust the fee according to CPI and introduce a $2 fee “because we assumed it would be fairer for most organisations”, he said.

Provider organisations were reluctant to comment publicly on how the changes might affect them as TMR went to press.

“We will be seeking clarification from the RACGP about this announcement and how it could affect us,” Gloria Antonio, Executive Manager Marketing and Business Delivery at NPS MedicineWise said.

“NPS MedicineWise allocates significant funding and resources into researching, developing and delivering our independent, evidence-based and free medical education programs which benefit RACGP members.”

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