RACGP announces first Northern Territory Chair

Royal Australian College of GPs

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has appointed well-known Northern Territory GP Dr Sam Heard to lead the brand-new Northern Territory faculty of the RACGP.

The new faculty, which will provide a critical voice and platform for GPs in the Territory, is the first time in 11 years the RACGP has developed a faculty from scratch.

RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price welcomed Dr Heard on board.

“This is great news for Sam and for GPs and patients right across the Northern Territory,” she said.

“I am thrilled this is one of the great achievements of this Presidency. Although long talked about, the NT team and RACGP leadership made this happen.

“I’m sure Sam will do a great job fighting for GPs and general practice teams. He is well known locally for his work educating young doctors and improving access to general practice care for Territorians. Sam is also highly respected for his work improving communication across healthcare through electronic health record research and I understand he did some tremendous work in the role of Regional Director of GP Training for the Territory. In recognition of this, he was awarded the RACGP General Practice supervisor of the year for South Australia and the Northern Territory in 2017.

“It’s no surprise that he was also awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2019 Queens Birthday Honours for his service to medicine. He really is the perfect leader to take charge of this new faculty and advocate for the reforms that will improve general practice care in the NT.

“As I said at the Alice Springs event earlier this year celebrating the inaugural NT faculty, I’m really looking forward to what we can do with the Territory faculty, and I believe it holds tremendous promise. I look forward to working with Sam in the remaining months of my Presidency and wish him all the best in the years ahead.”

Dr Heard said that he was honoured to take on the new role as Interim Chair.

“I am really pleased that the RACGP are establishing a Faculty in the Northern Territory,” he said.

“It will enable general practice in the Northern Territory to have a voice nationally and ensure that the important role of GPs in the delivery of comprehensive primary care in the NT is recognised.

“My leadership of this new faculty comes at an important time, with the transition to College-led general practice training happening at the start of next year. I am confident that the RACGP will seize this opportunity to address challenges such as the maldistribution of GPs across Australia, which is particularly pronounced in rural and remote areas including in the Territory.

“I have a long-held commitment to medicine in the NT and this new role will help me fight for the changes I believe can improve patient care. I will work hard every day in this role to ensure that patients everywhere in Territory can access high-quality general practice care when they need it.”

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