Surveyors in Focus

Surveying since 1997 – Daphne Kneale, AGPAL Co-Surveyor

Image of AGPAL Co-Surveyor, Daphne Kneale

Being an AGPAL Co-Surveyor

I have been an AGPAL Co-Surveyor since AGPAL first started – back in 1997 I think it was. The main reason I decided to become an AGPAL Surveyor was so I could understand the (RACGP) Standards more, and assist my practice in becoming accredited. I had great support from my Principal GP in doing this – because the practice really wanted to go through accreditation, he supported me in becoming a Surveyor.

What I enjoy most about being an AGPAL Co-Surveyor is being part of the AGPAL Surveying team, and to be able to share the knowledge I have gained over the years as a practice manager. It is also about the knowledge I am able to gain from practices and go to other practices and share that knowledge with. Adding positive improvements to general practice.

As a practice manager, I feel that I am really proud to be able to display the AGPAL Accredited Symbol. To let our patients know that we have met the standards and that they are being treated at a quality and safe practice.

AGPAL give great support in the materials and resources that they supply to practices to help them through the accreditation process. It is obvious when you go into practices that they have used AGPAL-supplied resources to meet those standards.

Reflecting on 21+ years as a Co-Surveyor

Daphne Kneale, AGPAL Co-Surveyor (centre) with AGPAL surveyors and Dr Richard Choong, AGPAL Board Chair (right), cutting AGPAL’s 21st birthday cake in 2018.

One of the biggest changes from 1997 to now is going from handwritten reports to online reports. This was very time consuming, finding that you had to do the joint report with your GP Surveyor – it has been a great improvement with the process.

I feel that accreditation reflects commitment to general practice and their commitment to providing quality and safe care to their patients. Going through the accreditation process, with the immunisation process for staff and doctors – principal doctors sometimes don’t understand why it’s so important to have their staff immunized and will sometimes say ‘oh well I really don’t think that that’s necessary’.

Explaining to them that it is their responsibility if for instance that their staff member has, for example, caught something in their practice, insurance companies will certainly be looking to see if that staff member has been offered immunisation against that disease, and offered immunity checks. This would protect them in a worker’s compensation case, should that arise. That I get to explain that to them, so they really see ‘oh well I haven’t ever really thought of it that way’, that accreditation is there as a protection for the practice and the patient as well.

Some of the big changes I have seen in general practice (since becoming an AGPAL Surveyor) would be in sterilisation, risk management and on-going staff training, especially with triage. The main change, though, has been cold chain management. I can see great improvements in that area. I remember on one occasion going into a practice and they were storing their vaccines in a little bar fridge – which was very overcrowded – and looking at their recorded temperature, they had been recording a temperature of 0 degrees for weeks.

When I investigated as to why that would be, the thermometer probe was actually placed in the drip cold tray on the back of the fridge, so naturally, it was giving a reading of 0 degrees. When trying to explain to the principal doctor who said he was responsible for the cold chain monitoring, he said ‘oh well it’s really better to be colder than hotter isn’t it, you know?’. Of course, as we know, that is not the case to have vaccines at freezing as it really does affect their potency. It really is one of the biggest changes that I can see over the years, now with the purpose-built vaccine fridges and data loggers available for monitoring those fridges as well.

Having had the opportunity to visit many general practices across the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, I would like to see AGPAL continue their leadership in providing the support and improvements to make Australian general practices the best in the world and I feel that we can achieve that with support from AGPAL. I would like to thank AGPAL for the opportunity to be part of this team in delivering excellence in general practice.