“We need to stop fighting each other and instead work together to defeat the common foe, be it poverty, injustice, poor health literacy, turf wars, egocentric and sector centric protocols, addictions, isolation, damaging workplace cultures and so on.
“Building bridges from foundations of understanding, respect and our passion as healers is critical to complete ourselves and to inspire generations to come.
“GPs and pharmacists seem to be locked in turf wars – at least that’s how it plays in the medical and pharmacy media. (…) Are the turf wars impeding safer medication use? We must build bridges across our differences to pursue the common good.
“One of the first things we might do together is to understand better that silent majority and what they want from their leaders.
“Collaboration, though, like unity, is only comfortable in the abstract. The process can be a bit messy, and involves compromise and discomfort. It’s as if we are all in separate little dinghies on the sea, and we all need to get in the same boat. If there is no rocking the boat, we will get nowhere. But if there is too much rocking the boat, we get thrown overboard.
“My message is that it has to start somewhere and it will be small steps, but almost anything is possible.
“It is time we tried to break down some of the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ in medicine, starting with the divisions within Australian General Practice and the organisations which represent Australian GPs. In unity, there is strength.
“(…) when primary care doesn’t connect, collaborate and work together – patients see and feel that disconnection.
“We are tough on each other. We are outwardly critical of our leaders. We are obstinately frustrated at our professional organisations.
“BridgeBuilders assumes that there is always a better way, and that through strategic conversation and a willingness to work together, we might discover it.
“When we get it right the GP, the mental health nurse, the emergency doctors and nurses, and the allied health clinicians aren’t individuals trying to be solo rock stars. When we get it right we’re playing together as a band. That’s the way to make the health service sing.
“We have a lot more in common than what divides us, and we need to highlight that and focus on our similarities rather than our differences.
“Unity in diversity around a core shared value is essential. That core value strengthens the individual and should be the magnet that brings the various groups together.
“Trust comes first.
“Our multivariate voice has made it easy to ignore the GP input into the [healthcare] redesign and that is before we get to the patient voice.
“Kindness in action matters in our team sport, where we are all really on the one side; the bridge is over a foggy chasm or little creek – we are not quite sure which.
“We cannot change the past but we can shape our future and achieve wonderful things together (…).
“BridgeBuilders is already demonstrating the impact of this mindset on a greater scale. In a current culture of factions and self-promotion, it is pushing back.
“For our leaders to be able to work better together via their organisations, they must be able to relate to each other as individuals. That is difficult when they go into meetings as representatives of specific organisations. Being able to meet each other on neutral ground is a very good thing.
“I am quietly optimistic about this project – together we can build bridges.
“There is more that makes us the same, than there is that makes us different. This needs to be at the core: our similarities and our common aims.
“We need a rethink of the training pipeline. We need to design a training system that encourages collaboration between training providers, yet celebrates differences in skill mix.
“It is about sharing vulnerabilities and being open and being brave enough to distribute your power to many.
“With each new generation comes a new perspective and a new vision. A new way of doing things.
“I look forward to BridgeBuilders being one of the places where we can come together and discuss some of the big issues facing our noble vocation and valued patients.
“More collaboration in healthcare has many benefits – for patient care, healthcare reform and mental health of healthcare professionals.