Exclusive: Only 25% of GPs see value in RACGP membership

Yasmin Clarke

writer

Yasmin Clarke

Data analyst; Journalist

Felicity Nelson

writer

Felicity Nelson

Science journalist; strategy consultant

But the college’s perceived performance has improved over time.

Exclusive data from Healthed’s latest survey reveals that few GPs see RACGP membership as providing value for money, even though GPs are much more likely to recommend the college to their peers than any time in the last four years.

In the recent survey, 448 GPs were asked: “Do you feel that you get value for money for your RACGP membership”. Only 25% answered ‘Yes’.

This is slightly less than the 2018 survey of GPs, which found that 34% of GPs felt they got value for money from their RACGP membership.

In Part 2 of this story, we are asking RACGP presidential candidates to address the perceptions of members raised in this survey. This will be published in our Sunday newsletter.

In the survey, Healthed invited GPs to comment on the following question: “What is the main thing that the RACGP needs to address to improve the way that it is perceived by the GP community?”

The GPs who responded said the college needed to do more to address the disparity between the high price of RACGP membership and the quality of education and advocacy services.

There was particular concern about the lack of a discount for members who were struggling financially during the pandemic, and the lack of consideration for GPs on maternity or sick leave or working part-time.

Many GPs were dissatisfied with the lack of effective advocacy work by the RACGP on behalf of GPs.

“NO DISCOUNT DURING COVID and yet RACGP makes a huge profit. Big slap in the face to GPs,” one GP responded.

“Improve advocacy for us GPs as a specialty and easy accessibility with their website and e-learning. I registered for a webinar once and it crashed so I never registered on any of their online learnings,” said another GP.

“Reduce cost of membership. Many female practitioners who work part time do not see RACGP membership as affordable,” a third GP said.

“No discount for maternity leave, sickness leave or mental health leave or study,” another GP said.  “If you are not earning as much you shouldn’t have to pay as much. This discriminates against female GPs who may need to work part time and look after kids or aged parents.”

One GP respondent simply said: “AVOID ALL POLITICS AND CRUSADES.”

“GP support from the RACGP needs to be more tangible,” said another.

Some concerns were about more specific matters, namely the printing of RACGP materials in the “tiniest fonts found”. The GP described the RACGP’s printed materials as “unwelcoming” and “non-humanly printed”. Another GP said the RACGP “needs to have meetings in Perth”.

The full responses are available here.

Scorecard

Despite the perception of low value for money, 48% of GPs surveyed said they were ‘satisfied’ with the recent performance of the RACGP.

One GP surveyed commented that the “political advocacy of the RACGP has improved greatly since the beginning of COVID”.

The other half of GPs surveyed were not satisfied with the college’s performance.

Some of these GPs did not pull any punches when critiquing the college in the free text section of the survey.

“The profession would be immeasurably better had the RACGP never existed,” one GP said.

“The RACGP has never done anything good for GP in my entire career,” said another.

One GP stated that the RACGP “seem to pocket money rather than helping members”, while another said that the college “needs to have more ‘teeth’ when dealing with the government policy makers”.

“The RACGP needs to lower its membership fee and look like it cares about the GPs who actually see the patients,” another GP said.

“They need to do more and not worry about perception only,” said another.

The RACGP is “seen as self-serving, money-grabbing” and as “kissing the backside of government”, one GP said.

“Grossly outrageous CPD fees for very little return except a piece of paper at the end of three years. Would be very happy to change to a cheaper CPD home,” said another GP.

“It is too late. They are past their use by date,” said one GP.

Would you recommend the college to another GP?

The recent survey found that more GPs would recommend the RACGP to a friend than in the 2020 or 2018 surveys.

The RACGP’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), as measured by Healthed’s surveys, is trending upwards over time, from -50 in 2018, to -26 in 2020 to +27 in 2022.

The -50 NPS score was reported in September in 2018, towards the end of Dr Bastian Seidel’s presidency and just prior to the election of Dr Harry Nespolon. The NPS score of -26 in 2020 was recorded towards the end of Dr Nespolon’s term. The +27 score was recorded towards the end of Dr Karen Price’s presidency.

What is a Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

Net Promoter Score is a widely-used member satisfaction methodology, also used by many businesses and not-for-profits to monitor their customers’ satisfaction over time. Each customer/member is asked “How likely is it that you would recommend [the organisation] to a friend or colleague?” and gives a score from zero to ten.

Members selecting 9 or 10 are considered ‘promoters’. They highly recommend this organisation and would promote it eagerly amongst friends and colleagues. Members selecting 7 or 8 are considered ‘passives’. They recommend the organisation but not as strongly as the promoters. Members selecting 6 and below are considered ‘detractors’ who would typically not recommend the organisation.

To get an overall score for the organisation, the percentage of ‘detractors’ is subtracted from the percentage of ‘promoters’.

Net Promoter Scores range from the lowest possible score, negative 100, to the highest possible score, positive 100.

Typically, organisations focus on monitoring their score and aiming to improve it over time, or comparing their score to competitors or similar organisations. Given the lack of direct competitors it’s difficult to benchmark what score to expect from the RACGP, though many well-known businesses publish theirs. Coca-Cola’s most recently available NPS is 39, Apple’s is 72, and Uber’s is 27.

Big election issues

With the RACGP presidential elections coming up in July, Healthed asked GPs what issues were top of mind.

Almost half the surveyed GPs (40%) identified financial considerations as their number one RACGP election issue.

Around a quarter of GPs (27%) selected ‘GP remuneration’ as their number one concern and 13% of GPs selected ‘the financial viability of general practice as a profession’.

Another 8% of GPs identified CPD as their biggest concern, and a further 8% identified the value of the RACGP membership.

The noise in the media around the financial viability of general practice has been deafening in the past few weeks.

Healthed recently broke the news that one in five GPs are moving away from bulk billing due to rising costs. This report was covered by the mainstream press (ABC, Guardian Australia, SBS, SMH, and others), igniting a national conversation on this topic.

One GP surveyed by Healthed said: “GP businesses are in crisis now. If nothing will be done to support GP, the primary health system will collapse.”

The RACGP was contacted for comment about this story but did not provide a response prior to publication.

Healthed has asked each RACGP presidential candidate the following question in relation to this survey data and will publish the responses in our Sunday newsletter: “The survey findings show that most GPs do not feel they get value for money from their RACGP membership. How do you plan to address this if you are elected president?”

 

Credits

Survey conception and design: Healthed GP advisory group

Data analysis, visualisation & writing: Yasmin Clarke

Writing & editing: Felicity Nelson

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Yasmin Clarke

writer

Yasmin Clarke

Data analyst; Journalist

Felicity Nelson

writer

Felicity Nelson

Science journalist; strategy consultant

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