The ACT is set to be one of the first communities around Australia to lead primary health care reform as Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon, Gai Brodtmann MP, Member for Canberra, and Andrew Leigh MP, Member for Fraser, announced that the ACT Division of General Practice will become one of the nation’s first Medicare Locals from 1 July 2011.
“Amongst my early memories from when I first became Health Minister is of the many different patients telling me of the confusion and difficulty they faced in finding their way through Australia’s complex health system,” Minister Roxon said.
“Many people would praise their local GP, or allied health worker, but would also say how difficult it was finding the right service at the right time.
“That is why today is so important for the local Canberra community. We are helping Australians to overcome these difficulties and access the health services they need, closer to home was one of the Government’s main motivations for pursuing primary health care reform.
“There is no one-size-fits-all for Medicare Locals. The proposal put forward by the ACT Division of General Practice will deliver the best locally-run option to help better link local primary health care services and improve local services,” Minister Roxon said.
Both Gai Brodtmann MP, Member for Canberra and Andrew Leigh MP, Member for Fraser welcomed the announcement, saying that the ACT Medicare Local will have an important role working with GPs, nurses, allied health professionals and Local Hospital Network to identify and respond to gaps in local health services.
“I know we have great health care professionals in Canberra and our new Medicare Local will deliver better results for the whole Territory,” Ms Brodtmann said.
“The ACT Medicare Local will play a key role in helping to improve access to after-hours care, chronic disease prevention and management programs and mental health initiatives,” Mr Fraser said.
The Gillard Government received many high quality applications to become Medicare Locals. Given this breadth of quality applications, the Government has decided that the first tranche of Medicare Locals should comprise 19 organisations across urban and rural Australia, an increase on the 15 originally proposed.
They have been drawn from high performing Divisions of General Practice, many working in consortia with other organisations, with established records in improving primary health care for their local community, and strong plans to improve local primary care services into the future.