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World’s leading GPs wrap up international conference hopeful of future change

Royal Australian College of GPs 3 mins read

One of Australia’s leading and most-revered GPs will speak of the nation’s need for recovery and revival in a post-COVID world, on the final day of the WONCA World Conference Sydney 2023.

Running from 26 to 29 October 2023, WONCA is one of the largest global conferences for GPs. In 2023, it is being hosted by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), bringing the conference to Australia for the first time in over 20 years.

On WONCA’s final day, experts from around the world will present on big-picture approach es to heath systems and the theme of ‘Recovery, reconnection and revival. Primary care contributions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic’.

WONCA includes a series of informative presentations on innovative approaches to health:

  • Former deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd on the contributions made by primary care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact that the pandemic has had on primary care, and the possible implications of this experience for future reforms.
  • Past President of the UK Royal College of General Practitioners and Board Member of Preventing Overdiagnosis Dr Iona Heath on how strong systems of primary care improve health outcomes at lower cost and with reduced health inequality
  • Professor Robert Phillips, Executive Director of the Center for Professionalism and Value in Health Care, on common problems facing primary care around the world and efforts to build a federal health infrastructure in the United States
  • A session on trauma and burnout within the medical professions and exploring strategies to facilitate doctors’ health and wellbeing.

Professor Michael Kidd AO, who was Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Australia for the first three years of COVID-19 with special responsibility for the nation’s primary care response to the pandemic, now holds a joint appointment as Professor of Global Primary Care and Future Health Systems at the University of Oxford and the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

He will speak about the impact of the pandemic on primary care, and the implications for future primary care reforms.

“COVID-19 showed how essential a strong primary health system is – both in a crisis, and in keeping people healthy day to day,” Professor Kidd said.

“We also need to consider the effect the pandemic had on health systems around the world. For many practitioners, the pandemic exposed structural weaknesses in our health systems that we need to address to keep people healthy into the future. For many of us, and our patients who are still vulnerable or who are experiencing long-term effects of COVID-19, this pandemic is not over.

“We must acknowledge the trauma being on the frontlines of a pandemic response has caused, and honour the work by GPs, practice nurses, and other primary healthcare workers by learning its lessons. We need strong health systems based on strong primary care in every country. This is an opportunity for us to envision what that looks like and what enduring reforms are needed, both here in Australia and in countries all around the world.”

Dr Iona Heath, past President of the UK Royal College of General Practitioners, and current Board Member of Preventing Overdiagnosis, will deliver the final keynote address for WONCA 2023, ‘Remembering what we know’.

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said the WONCA World Conference has left her feeling inspired about the future of general practice care and ready to take on the health challenges presenting GPs in Australia and across the world.

“On this fourth and final day of WONCA, we reflect on the crucial role of general and family practice across the world. GPs really are the backbone of the healthcare system – we keep our patients healthy, out of hospitals. And we help reduce spending on hospital services as a result,” Dr Higgins said.

“WONCA is a celebration of GPs and family doctors, the most visited health professionals in Australia, and many countries overseas. It has been a chance for GPs to connect with our overseas colleagues and shape the future of medicine, here in Australia and overseas.

“I’m coming away with renewed energy and optimism to keep advocating for general practice and our patients – which is everyone in Australia. GPs are the solution to health systems in crisis, and our generations greatest health battles, including chronic disease and ageing populations worldwide. It’s time to re-think where governments put funding and invest in keeping people healthy and able to live their best lives.”

The WONCA 2023 conference theme is “Recovery, reconnection, and revival. A celebration of primary care.” This year’s conference includes more than 800 presentations and workshops from over 700 local and international presenters from around the world, and over 50 topic streams, including health reform, mental health, women’s health, climate change, rural practice, and more.

About us:

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is the peak representative organisation for general practice, the backbone of Australia’s health system. We set the standards for general practice, facilitate lifelong learning for GPs, connect the general practice community, and advocate for better health and wellbeing for all Australians.

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