GP Clinical Editors and Leadership: Conference Learning Module

GP Clinical Editors Active Learning Module (RACGP) | Structured Learning Activity (ACRRM)


Building clinical leadership in GP Clinical Editors

This HealthPathways Conference Learning Module aims to increase your understanding of leadership competencies in the context of your own personal narrative and activities as a GP Clinical Editor. 

Through the pre- and post-conference activities and by attending identified conference sessions, you will develop an increased understanding of your own and other clinicians impediments to leading, recognise the components of your work that already fall within this context, receive training in leadership skills to support your team development and working group facilitation, learn to apply a system to your workload management, and apply leadership concepts to an activity in your own health community directly impacting on patient care.

See also Learning ActivityRegistration and Requirements

Relevance to Practice

General Practitioners in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom frequently work in a situation of peer, academic and often, geographical  isolation. They complete any involvement within the secondary care institutions early in their careers and their ongoing interaction with the secondary care centres is fraught with challenges in communication and distrust which directly impacts on the ability to confidently provide high quality care and navigate the system with their patients.

As small business professionals, GPs have little power to influence change in their health community and are at the mercy of changes inflicted upon their practices by policy and funding decisions, such as the Australian Medicare rebate freeze. These factors may causal in the decreasing morale observed in Australian GPs in the ongoing MABEL research.1 The opportunities for GPs to work in leadership roles are largely unknown other than those involving greater participation in GP colleges or politics.

A new leadership role for GPs

A new role for the GP has recently been developed by the introduction of HealthPathways across health districts in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Practising GPs are recruited as GP Clinical Editors working with the regional team to localise a set of clinical and referral pathways for their region. Pathways published are the result of a negotiation led by the Clinical Editor, between GPs, specialists and relevant health services. GPs performing this role gradually become aware of their ability to influence change in their community health system, they develop a strong network of respectful relationships with their GP and specialist colleagues, and bring efficient knowledge updates to their peers to support the GP business model in the face of rapid changes.

Building clinical leadership within your health system

Clinicians often view the concept of leadership with scepticism.2 They will not rush with enthusiasm towards leadership work due to their own workloads, a lack of formal leadership training, low confidence, discomfort in the concept of leading peers3 and distrust of those in management roles. Those taking on leadership roles do so out of a sense that they have finally reached a sufficient level of expertise to qualify or out of frustration in being managed in a system which should be better.

The Canterbury health system in New Zealand has set an example which is frequently referenced by Healthcare leaders in Australia and the United Kingdom working towards an integrated health system. 4,5 Prof Bruce Keogh in his recent address to the Leaders in Healthcare 20176 advised that for the NHS to reform, there must be stronger localisation and local leadership and this will lead to tensions between local versus central control, and between clinicians and managers. GP Clinical Editors find themselves leading negotiations at those points of tension.


  1. Scott A & Taylor T. 2017. ANZ- Melbourne Institute Health Sector Report: General practice trendsMelbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social research, University of Melbourne
  2. Peter Lees, Clinical Leadership - Are clinicians up for it? Journal of the Royal College of Physicians Clinical Medicine 2016 Vol 16, No 1: 5–6
  3. General Practitioners’ views on Leadership roles and challenges in primary healthcare: a qualitative study (Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care 
  4. Australian Productivity Commission 2017, Integrated Care, Shifting the Dial: 5 year Productivity Review, Supporting Paper No. 5, Canberra.
  5. Anna Charles, The Kings Fund, Developing Accountable Care Systems, Lessons from Canterbury New Zealand August 2017
  6. Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, Keynote speech, Leaders in Healthcare 2017

Learning Activity Registration and Requirements

Louise Delaney