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GPs need voice in Medicare Locals

The nation’s peak independent national council for GPs has raised “serious concerns” that local doctors will be sidelined from involvement in key healthcare decisions under the Federal Government’s Medicare Locals program. The AMA Council of General Practice, which met in Canberra late last month, has set reforms to the delivery of primary health care – particularly the implementation of Medicare Locals – high on its agenda.

01 Jul 2012

The nation’s peak independent national council for GPs has raised “serious concerns” that local doctors will be sidelined from involvement in key healthcare decisions under the Federal Government’s Medicare Locals program.

The AMA Council of General Practice, which met in Canberra late last month, has set reforms to the delivery of primary health care – particularly the implementation of Medicare Locals – high on its agenda.

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton, who is a Brisbane GP, said the Council would push for a more active role at the local level to support GPs in the emerging Medicare Locals environment.

“The AMA has serious concerns about the direction of Medicare Locals and the absence of meaningful GP involvement in their governance structures,” Dr Hambleton said. “Medicare Locals are replacing the former Divisions of General Practice and there are genuine fears that medical leadership in primary care decision-making at the local level will be watered down.”

The Government is establishing a national network of 62 Medicare Locals to coordinate primary health care delivery and tackle local health care needs and service gaps.

The Government’s ambition is that Medicare Locals will drive improvements in primary health care and ensure that services are better tailored to meet the needs of local communities.

But the AMA Council of General Practice, chaired by Dr Brian Morton, is driving to make sure local GPs are well represented in the process.

Dr Hambleton said the Council reinforced that “the AMA is the only body equipped to provide independent high quality nationally-coordinated political and policy advocacy for all GPs.

“Local GPs need assurance that their interests are being protected and championed by a strong voice in Federal health politics – and that voice is the AMA.”

At its meeting, the Council also identified a number of priority areas in which the views of GPs will be advanced in the lead-up to the next Federal election, including boosting the teaching capacity of general practices, ensure better support for general practices delivery mental health care, securing payments in recognition of the additional work GPs will be required to undertake to implement personally controlled electronic health records and advancing the AMA Complex and Chronic Disease Plan.

At its meeting, the Council elected a new executive.

It confirmed Dr Morton as chair, while Dr Cathy Hutton was elected deputy chair and Professor Bernard Pearn-Rowe was made Convenor. Other members of the executive elected were Dr Richard Kidd, Dr Barri Phatarfod, Dr Shaun Rudd, Dr Peter Beaumont and Dr Chris Clohesy.

AR


Published: 01 Jul 2012