AMA (WA) calls for major overhaul of Medicare Locals

AMA (WA) calls for major overhaul of Medicare Locals

Thursday 19 December 2013


The time has come for a major overhaul of Medicare Locals, AMA (WA) Vice President Dr Michael Gannon said today.


“We are calling on the Abbott Government to launch a complete and comprehensive overhaul of the entire model, including a name-change,” Dr Gannon said.


The AMA’s submission has been made to the Australian Government’s Review of Medicare Locals, which is headed by former Chief Medical Officer, Professor John Horvath.


“The AMA submission highlights the numerous problems Medicare Locals have, including problems with the design and implementation of this model of bureaucracy, which adds nothing to General Practice,” Dr Gannon said.


“The bald and unavoidable truth is that Medicare Locals have failed to deliver.


“Despite the huge amount of additional funding Medicare Locals have received, there has been little to no evidence of any improvements to the divisions of General Practice structure they have replaced.


“This funding should have gone into improving GP infrastructure, which directly benefits patients,” Dr Gannon said.


In its submission, the AMA recommends reforms that focus on moving to a network of PHCOs that are:


• GP-led and locally responsive;
• focused on supporting GPs in caring for patients, working collaboratively with other health care professionals;
• not overburdened by excessive paperwork and policy prescription;
• focused on addressing service gaps, not replicating existing services; and
• better aligned with Local Hospital Networks, with a strong emphasis on improving the primary care/hospital interface.


“GPs are the cornerstone of our health system, and are acutely aware of existing gaps in access to care for patients, Dr Gannon said.


“Rather than adding another layer of bureaucratic red-tape via Medicare Locals, GPs should play the principal role in deciding if PCHOs are able to succeed in bridging the gaps in providing primary health care services,” Dr Gannon said


The AMA submission is supported by a recent survey of 1212 GPs from around Australia. The GPs were invited to share their views on the role being played by the current Medicare Locals.


The survey responses indicate that Medicare Locals have:


• failed to improve the coordination and delivery of primary health care services;
• increased red tape and compliance costs;
• failed to communicate effectively with GPs;
• not engaged meaningfully with general practice;
• duplicated existing services; and
• been unable to demonstrate any improvement to access to after-hours GP services, despite significant extra funding.


“The Association will work with the new Government to implement sensible reforms that support improved access to care for patients,” Dr Gannon said.


The AMA submission can be view here.

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