Local health professionals and consumers urged to engage with a potential Medicare Local

25 March 2011

Medicare Locals to be established from 1 July this year. The closing date for applications from consortiums bidding to be part of this first tranche is fast approaching (5 April).
The Alliance is urging health professionals and consumers to become engaged with whoever is leading the charge locally, to ensure that all health interests are involved from day one.
The development of successful local partnerships requires a shared vision. It is therefore vital that local consumer and other special interest groups (such as local government, health advocates, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services, aged care providers and community health workers) engage with Divisions of General Practice and other health professionals to agree on the basics for the new Medicare Local: its overall goals, its governance structure, and its approach to local collaboration.
To be successful, all Medicare Locals - in whichever tranche - will have a broad primary health care approach and the strong support of local medical practitioners, as well as nurses, allied health professionals, dentists, pharmacists, paramedics, health service managers, teachers, researchers and non-government organisations like the RFDS. They must also have an inclusive approach to primary care and commit to a governance structure that welcomes all health professions, Given the short lead times it is vital for local leaders and champions of this broad church to step forward and be proactive - especially those that are not already close to the bodies driving a local proposal.
Many of the hopes for a better health care system in rural and remote areas rest on the first Medicare Locals going well. And given sufficient collaborative energy, a shared vision and adequate government support, the first 15 can become exemplars of the sort of entity that will successfully transform local health services and deliver better collaboration among primary care providers.
Medicare Locals in rural and remote areas can lead the way nationally because of the greater historical involvement of some of the rural Divisions in primary care program administration, and their proven record of successful collaboration across primary, acute and aged care.
With its strong multi-disciplinary focus and its bottom line of improved health care and health care services, the Alliance is well-placed to support the new agencies established in rural and remote areas. The Alliance will work supportively with and for all of the Medicare Locals selected in rural and remote areas.