Western Sydney is set to be one of the first communities around Australia to lead primary health care reform as Western Sydney MPs, Michelle Rowland and Ed Husic announced that WentWest Limited in Blacktown will become one of the nation’s first Medicare Locals from 1 July 2011.
Medicare Locals will have the important role of working with GPs, nurses, allied health professionals, Indigenous health organisations and Local Hospital Networks to identify and respond to gaps in local health services – and help patients and professionals navigate our complex system more easily.
“Many different patients have told me of the confusion and difficulty they face in finding their way through Australia’s complex health system, particularly in the Western Sydney region,” Ms Rowland 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 Western Sydney. We are helping families overcome these difficulties and access the health services they need when they need them.
“There is no one-size-fits-all for Medicare Locals. The proposal put forward by WentWest will deliver the best locally-run option to help better link local primary health care services and improve local services,” Ms Rowland said.
Federal Member for Chifley, Ed Husic believes that the Western Sydney Medicare Local will have an important role working with GPs, nurses, allied health professionals and Local Hospital Networks to identify and respond to gaps in local health services.
“I know we have great health care professionals in Western Sydney and our new Medicare Local will deliver better results for the entire area,” Mr Husic said.
“In particular, WentWest 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 Husic said the Western Sydney Medicare Local will develop, monitor and maintain high patient care standards and improve access to services.
“This development will make it easier for patients to navigate the local health care system, providing more integrated care and ensuring more responsive local GP and primary health care services,” Ms Husic said.
The Federal 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.
* Joint media release with Michelle Rowland MP, Member for Greenway and Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon