New national president to lead college of general practitioners

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A new president for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) with Dr Nicole Higgins to succeed Karen Price.

Dr Higgins will officially take on the role at the conclusion of the RACGP’s 2022 annual general meeting in November.

Dr Higgins has worked across general practice in urban and rural Australia. She owns a teaching practice in regional Queensland.

She is a member of the RACGP’s Queensland Faculty Council and is the current chair of GP Supervisors Australia.

“Congratulations Dr Higgins, I have full confidence you will be a strong advocate for GPs and continue the critical work of the College to advance general practice and ensure everyone across Australia can access world-class care,” said outgoing president Karen Price.

“We have come a long way in a short space of time, but there is still much to be done. The pandemic is not over, and at the same time, years of underfunding and neglect have put general practice in crisis.

“The lost decades of underinvestment in general practice have also led to the GP workforce shortage, which is particularly severe in rural and remote communities."

Dr Higgins said, “I am honoured to be taking on the RACGP President role, and look forward to working with members, other GPs and stakeholders on healthcare, including the government in the months and years ahead.

“General practice is the most cost-effective way of keeping Australians healthy - GPs save lives, and prevent illness.

“For too long, the role of general practice has been undervalued, oversimplified and defunded. Without general practice, the system fails.

“As a grassroots GP, practice owner, supervisor, working parent and primary caregiver, I understand the stressors that GPs face, and I am determined to be a strong and loud advocate for the changes we need. Now is the time to stand up as a profession and make our mark.

“Australia’s leaders need to stop talking about change and start making the change. We don’t need lip service, we need action. And I intend to fight hard for the future of world-class care in our country, care that is accessible to everyone, no matter their postcode or income.

“As a passionate GP educator, another of my core priorities as President will be the return of the Australian General Practice Training program back to the RACGP from February 23, 2022.

“I look forward to working closely with all stakeholders to deliver world-class GP training, and a seamless transition with as little disruption to the delivery of training as possible, including the Department of Health, and peak bodies representing GP supervisors and registrars.

“It’s also critical that we see continued support for college-led training from all sides of government, and I will make this clear as President, because general practice training is the future of general practice and the future of care in our country – it must be a priority. 

“Finally, I want to acknowledge the RACGP’s members, the GPs working hard in communities across the nation, nobody understands the issues facing our healthcare system better than you do. And as President of the RACGP – Australia’s largest representative body for GPs across the nation – there is no greater priority than listening to our members, speaking up for them, and fighting for the future of general practice. This is my commitment.”