You can read the details of the next 38 Medicare Locals here, in Minister Nicola Roxon’s press release.
Update, 7 November
For an explanation of Medicare Locals and their likely strengths and weaknesses, see Everything you need to know about Medicare Locals (but didn’t know who to ask), by Gawaine Powell-Davies, Associate Professor, CEO and Director, Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity at University of New South Wales.
At The Conversation, he writes that Medicare Locals will provide opportunities for bold new action where there is the right vision and partnerships – but they won’t be able to deal with the health system’s entrenched problems.
Their weaknesses include:
• Medicare Locals are not truly comprehensive. They won’t include community health (in some states) or hospitals, as did the Primary Care Trusts in England. So the system will remain fragmented. And although being separate may protect their budgets being raided by hospitals, they won’t be in a position to address the chronic imbalance between hospital and community care.
• They will have limited resources and little authority to pull services into networks and fill service gaps. Health-care providers are notoriously prickly about their autonomy, and don’t take kindly to being told what to do. We could end up with plenty of action at the organisational level but less benefit for patients and communities.
• Medicare Locals may find it hard to take a broad view of primary health care. They will need to think about social as well as medical care, and community as well as individual problems – all without alienating general practitioners who are a core part of primary health care. The Commonwealth, which is funding the whole enterprise, has little experience with broader primary health care.
The most useful perspective, suggests Powell-Davies, is to see Medicare Locals as “the first step on a longer march to stronger and more comprehensive primary health care”.