The ‘No’ case

4 minute read

On the 30th May the RACGP will hold an EGM to change its constitution. Here's why Dr Harry Nespolon is voting no


If you are an RACGP Member, vote No. Even if it is the only thing that you do this year with respect of the RACGP, find the email, and vote No.

In 1995 The Coca-Cola Company introduced New Coke. This company had enormous resources, and expertise went through a ‘process’ to change their iconic product. There was an enormous consumer backlash and ultimately withdrawn. If this not the greatest failure in introducing a new product it must be close. There was a failure to understand what Coke meant to its customers.

The RACGP has gone through a three-year process. This seems to be the main reason why members are asking to vote a change that will profoundly change the relationship between a membership organisation and its members. The changes embodied in the EGM have been rubber stamped by the current RACGP Board.

It is very unusual for the shareholders of a company to vote against a recommendation of the Board. In theory, the Board should be acting in the best interests of the members. If this EGM fails, it underlines how poorly the RACGP understands its members. In most companies, it would result in resignations from the board and changes in management. I am not holding my breath.

If the EGM does pass, then it simply won’t matter. The new micro-board will come into being, and any concerns of the members can be easily dismissed. To use the Fawlty Tower analogy – finally no patients in the hospital. What should happen is the new Board should consider how poorly the College understands the needs of a large group of members. Clearly, lawyers and accountants are perfectly placed to do this (sic).

From the insiders, it should be telling that recent Presidents are very vocal in asking the members to vote No.

As an outsider, the RACGP as a corporate organisation has operated very well. It has captured the increase in the number of general practitioners. This has led to good financial results and what, in general, is a well-administered organisation. Where the RACGP continues to fail is in its member relations, lobbying and promotion of general practice. The College’s Board does not need lawyers or accountants; it needs GP contractors, GP Registrars, Overseas Trained Doctors and GPs who own and run their own practice.

So does it matter? If you were to look at the College over the last 12 months, the EGM would seem to be the most important issue in general practice. Other than a group of members of the College no-one cares.

I might be the only person who strongly supports the money spent on promoting the RACGP brand raising public and hence politician awareness of the general practice. The last election shows how far general practice is behind in the lobbying game. The resources spent on this EGM should have been directed at building a public profile.

The College and the AMA will claim that they were instrumental in removing the Medicare freeze. Nothing could be further from the truth, the only group that we should congratulate is the opposition and the failure of the government to understand the importance of Medicare, not general practice.

It has been reported that AMA and College have done a completely unnecessary deal with the Government to have the freeze lifted. The freeze had to be lifted if the Coalition was to have a chance of winning the next election. All Health Ministers worth their salt want to do a deal with the AMA and sometimes the College to remain silent during the election campaign. This deal with the organisations is the extra cherry on the top of the political cake. Well done Health Minister.

The College has sold our soul for less than a gold coin, what is Plan B to build a vibrant and sustainable general practice?

Send a clear message to the College, vote No.

Dr Harry Nespolon
GP, Sydney


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