Optimism on Medicare Local

TASMANIA Medicare Local chief executive Phil Edmondson says he is optimistic that the organisation will continue to deliver services in the state, despite an uncertain future.

The federal budget confirmed that the Commonwealth will stop funding Australia's 61 Medicare Locals from June 30, 2015, replacing them with 20 Primary Health Networks performing a similar role.

Tasmania Medicare Local, formerly General Practice North, was introduced under federal Labor 2 1/2 years ago, to coordinate primary health services, and run Commonwealth-funded programs dealing with issues like after-hours care, mental health, refugee health and chronic conditions.

Mr Edmondson said that while he was disappointed that TML had only been given a couple of years to prove itself, he was quite optimistic about the new model and what it could potentially mean for primary care in Tasmania.

He said TML was well placed to receive the tender to run a Primary Health Network for the state.

``We are already aligned very strongly with state health boundaries, we already have very strong relationships with local hospital networks, and we already have undertaken the  amalgamation-type activity that would be expected to occur in the larger states,'' Mr Edmondson said.

He said unlike other states, Tasmania only had one Medicare Local.

``Victoria has 16 of them, for example,'' Mr Edmondson said.

According to the budget, Primary Health Networks will establish clinical councils with a significant GP presence, and local consumer advisory committees aligned to local hospital networks, to ensure primary health and acute care sectors work together to improve patient care.

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