RACGP: More Consultation Needed On Medicare Locals, Australia

Main Category: Medicare / Medicaid / SCHIP
Article Date: 26 Nov 2010 – 3:00 PST

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The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has provided a submission to Department of Health and Ageing about the proposed Medicare Locals health reforms.

The planned introduction of the national network of primary healthcare organisations, known as Medicare Locals, is supported in principle by the College, and the College believes primary healthcare organisations are an important component of national health reform. Nevertheless, the College has concerns about some aspects of Medicare Locals and would like to see further detail from the government regarding their implementation.

RACGP President Professor Claire Jackson said that the College has voiced concern regarding the government’s immediate plan as part of this initiative to remove the responsibility for the provision of access to after-hours medical care from general practice, and replace it with a telephone medical advice service run by Medicare Locals.

“We have urged the government to review the after-hours care arrangements, noting the decimation of after-hours care which occurred under similar circumstances in the UK. Unless these issues are addressed, patient access to after-hours care may be very much curtailed.

Professor Jackson said that the College welcomes the government’s commitment to work with the profession and key stakeholders regarding the establishment of the primary healthcare organisations, as well as its commitment to the integration of quality primary healthcare, facilitated by general practitioners with strong clinical leadership.

“However, if poorly designed, the introduction of a regional system will generate additional layers of bureaucracy, expense, and red tape. Therefore, when exploring options for regional structures, it is vital that there is ongoing and meaningful consultation with the profession at both a national and local level.

“If high quality healthcare is to be achieved at a local level between the primary healthcare and hospital sectors, a formal, structured and meaningful relationship between the primary healthcare organisations and local hospital networks needs to be established and maintained, and GPs should be at the forefront of these reforms. Progression towards a more collaborative approach by primary healthcare organisations and local hospital networks will cultivate and foster an integrated culture of mutual understanding, cooperation, and respect between both sectors,” she said.

The College is committed to work with all levels of government to improve access to high quality care to better meet the needs of local communities.

To read the RACGP’s submission to the Department of Health and Ageing about the proposed Medicare Locals health reforms, visit here.


Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

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