COAG report cements the purpose of Medicare Locals

COAG report cements the purpose of Medicare Locals

24 May 2013

Todays COAG report Healthcare 2011-12: Comparing performance across Australia confirms the investment that needs to be channelled into the primary health care sector through Medicare Locals if further improvements are to be realised in the health outcomes of all Australians.

AML Alliance CEO, Claire Austin said todays report which showed a 7.3% reduction in potentially preventable hospital admissions over the past four years highlights the purpose of Medicare Locals, Australias primary health care organisations, which are working now to keep people well and out of hospital.

Hospital care is the most expensive care to deliver in this country and most people with chronic diseases and complex conditions should be, and will be, increasingly managed through frontline team-based care at the community level through Medicare Locals, Ms Austin said.

It is unacceptable that the proportion of people who felt they waited an unacceptable time to see a GP increased to 27.4% from 17.8% over a four year period.

Improvements in after hours care and access to GPs is happening now with Medicare Locals working systematically in 61 catchment areas to identify where there are gaps in after hours services and where services need to be adjusted to meet local community needs, she said.

With Australias ageing population and the increasing proportion of adults who are either overweight (35%) or obese (28%), the acute care sector cannot be expected to cope with this onslaught of increasing chronic disease, in terms of patient numbers and cost to the system.

Medicare Locals have been set up to take this load away from the hospital sector to effectively free it up for the acute care episodes that need intensive treatment.

Managing the treatments, care plans and prevention programs for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, smoking cessation programs and asthma for example, are better dealt with through coordinating organisations like Medicare Locals.

AML Alliance, the peak primary health care body for the 61 Medicare Locals, is working to strengthen and support its members to deliver the integrated care at the frontline, locally, Ms Austin said.