After-Hours primary care services for rural and remote communities

Thursday, 11 September 2014

NRHA was invited to make a submission to the Government’s independent review of after-hours primary care services, headed by Professor Claire Jackson. The Review’s recommendations to the Government are due by 31 October 2014.

The NRHA submission has a strong focus on the importance of local knowledge about the services and health professionals available in rural and remote areas in order to ensure the most effective delivery of after-hours primary care. It will be important that this local knowledge and understanding is consolidated and extended to support access to after-hours services during the transition from Medicare Locals (MLs) to Primary Health Networks (PHNs). In many instances PHNs are expected to cover even larger areas than MLs and a range of service options will need to be considered to come up with local solutions that work for after hours care in rural and remote communities and complement local health professionals, especially where doctors are in short supply. The local hospital or a remote area nurse or other health professional may already be involved in local solutions and may need additional support.

The After-Hours Services Review was one of the recommendations to Government following Professor John Horvath’s Review of Medicare Locals to assess their performance and effectiveness. Among other things, he recommended that the Government should “review the current Medicare Locals’ after-hours program to determine how it can be effectively administered”.

The NRHA continues to monitor and provide input into the transition from Medicare Locals (MLs) to the new Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to ensure that they work well in rural and remote areas. Other NRHA policy papers about primary care are brought together in our Primary Health Networks current focus area. Links are also provided to further information about the Horvath Review of Medicare Locals, the Government’s response and the transition to Primary Health Networks.