From the CEO's desk: visits to China and Sydney

This month I want to report on two visits which I have undertaken recently. The first was to China, to undertake further practice accreditation visits. The second was to Sydney, for a conference planning meeting and site visit relating to WONCA World, Sydney 2022.

Practice Accreditation Visits in China

In an effort to enhance quality standards and improvement in the practice of Family Medicine, WONCA has developed a series of Global Standards for Practice Accreditation, which Executive endorsed late in 2017. The standards can be accessed on the WONCA website and look at four key areas of practice:

1. Practitioners – assessing the qualifications, experience and training of the doctors, nurses and other health professional staff in the practice who are providing primary health care services.
2. Patients – ensuring that the patients in the practice are being offered respectful and culturally appropriate care, with due regard for informed choice and patient feedback.
3. Practice operations – evaluating the use of patient health records (ideally electronic), collection and use of health data, and ensuring that there are systems in place for follow-up of tests and results, practice information, health promotion and preventive care.
4. Premises – confirming that practice facilities meet the standards, that practice equipment meets basic requirements and that there is safe and quality use and storage of medicines and vaccines.

In 2018 UMP Healthcare Holdings Ltd (UMP) approached WONCA to request accreditation visits to their newer clinics in Beijing and Shanghai and so, accompanied by Professor Rich Roberts, in April 2018 I undertook a visit to both Beijing and Shanghai. All eight clinics visited were endorsed for WONCA accreditation for a period of five years.

A further visit was undertaken in February 2019 (again by me and Professor Roberts) when a further three clinics were assessed for accreditation - the UMP Central Clinic in Central District Hong Kong; and two clinics in Shenzhen (Global Holdings Shekou GlobalCare Clinic in Shekou, Shenzhen and Global Holdings Chiho Medical Centre in Futian, Shenzhen). All three sites met the WONCA Global Standards for Practice Accreditation and were endorsed for WONCA accreditation.

During the February 2019 visit a number of government clinics requested the WONCA team to visit to assess for possible future accreditation. Three of those clinics - Panyu Qiaonan, Panyu Nancun and Panyu Zhongcun Community Health Service Centres (all in Guangzhou) – had subsequently applied for formal WONCA accreditation and so a visit was undertaken on 19th July, by myself and Professor William Wong (University of Hong Kong), to carry out the formal assessments. In advance of the visit, all three sites produced extensive and very comprehensive documentation on how each clinic measured up to the WONCA global standards.

In addition, all centres compiled and circulated a PowerPoint presentation to provide advance briefing to the visitors, in addition to fully briefing the visitors at the start of each visit.

Based on our examination of documents provided, our visits to each of the three health centres, and our formal briefings and informal conversations with leaders and staff during our time in China we found that all three reviewed sites met current WONCA Global Standards for Practice Accreditation. Panyu Nancun Community Health Service Centre was accredited for three years whilst both Panyu Qiaonan and Pany Zhongcun were accredited for five years, to recognise and acknowledge the standards achieved to date, the quality of leadership and the plans for the future.

I also met with officials from Haizhu District Health Bureau in Guangzhou, who are keen to explore WONCA accreditation. Haizhu District is one of 11 urban districts in Guangzhou, situated on a discrete island in the middle of the Pearl River, with a population of 1.66 million. Two centres were also visited, which demonstrated clear evidence of quality, and hopefully these will apply for formal accreditation in due course.

Conference Planning Meetings Sydney

Early August saw me bound for Sydney, for meetings with members of the WONCA 2022 Host Organizing Committee and for a preliminary site visit to the venue for WONCA 2022. WONCA has moved to a two-year events cycle, which has made a significant difference to our ability to plan for conferences, as we can no longer wait for one event to complete before starting to an the next. Thus although we are still over one year away from WONCA 2020 in Abu Dhabi (and I will be returning there for further visits and discussions in October) it’s essential to undertake at least preliminary planning for the world event after next.

The first world conference under the WONCA “brand” (although actually the 5th world conference) took place in Melbourne in 1972 so it’s quite appropriate that WONCA should be returning to Australia on its 50th anniversary. The venue this time is Sydney, and I had the opportunity to visit the proposed venue for the conference – the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney. This is an incredible facility, opened only in 2016 and situated right on the waterfront in Darling Harbour, with over 60 cafes and restaurants right on the doorstep.

There are several hotels nearby, including a Sofitel right beside the convention centre which will be the HQ hotel. Executive, Regional Council and World Council meetings will all take place within the ICC.

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) which will host the events, have already put a tremendous amount of work into ensuring the best WONCA conference ever, and by combining it with their national conference they are hoping to make it a very well attended event.

My thanks to Zena Burgess, CEO of RACGP, and Paula Rowntree, Events Manager, for their incredible hospitality and assistance during my time in Sydney. I look forward VERY much to a return visit!!