Promised stroke package for Medicare Locals welcome

Promised stroke package for Medicare Locals welcome

20 August 2013

The $50 million investment in a national network of stroke care coordinators, promised by a Rudd Government and directly linked to Australias 61 Medicare Locals, is a welcome initiative by the AML Alliance, Australias peak body for Medicare Locals.

AML Alliance Chair, Dr Arn Sprogis said this type of initiative is what stroke patients and their families and carers need - coordinated care by the right health professional, at the right time when patients are discharged from a hospital and go back to their home.

Getting the right coordinated care closer to home makes the difference in the rate of recovery and the quality of recovery, Dr Sprogis said.

Importantly it gives patients and their carers better peace of mind, he said.

Stroke care coordinators, nurses and allied health professionals, can address and assess the care needs of people at an individual level and help people to access rehabilitation services or other health care services as required in a timely way.

In essence, these coordinators can reduce the complexity of the system that patients and carers often face.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the latest statistics indicate that in 2006-2007 over 34,000 people were hospitalised due to stroke; in 2006 over 8,400 people died from stroke.

Medicare Locals are positioned and geared to coordinate a national network of stroke care coordinators.

Medicare Locals are the right logistical mechanism for getting this type of program moving out across the country quickly and effectively. We also welcome the funding support for the StrokeConnect program run by The Stroke Foundation, Dr Sprogis said.

National Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Dr Erin Lalor joined the Alliance in welcoming today's announcement saying it would provide stroke survivors with the vital support they need in the community.

"Todays announcement recognises the magnitude of the problem the Australian community faces as a result of stroke. Health professionals will now have the support and resources they need to deliver patients the best quality care, care patients need and deserve. The National Stroke Foundation looks forward to working with the Alliance to ensure fewer people experience unnecessary suffering from stroke,'' she said.

Dr Sprogis said, that should this investment in Medicare Locals be realised, it will add to the extensive work already underway in which Medicare Locals are changing and improving the coordination of primary health care locally:

  • Perth South Coastal ML is the lead agency, working in conjunction with a consortium of local agencies to bring headspace to Rockingham, thereby improving youth mental health in the region.
  • Residents in Melbournes south now have more choice for medical care at nights and weekends after 16 practices have agreed to open longer, increase service, offer bulk billing and improve frontline services as part of Bayside MLs after hours reforms
  • The Lower Murray Medicare Local is delivering an Autism Care Coordination project which has engaged with over 130 local families who have children who are living with Autism or other developmental disorders and is helping them to access the services they need when they need them
  • Frankston-Mornington Peninsula ML has commenced a pilot program, Listening to Individual Needs of Kids (LINKS) in local primary schools in high need areas to test a new service model for delivering psychological support services to children within a school setting
  • Townsville-Mackay ML is investing in preventative health programs such as headspace and ATAPS, the In Home Diabetes Management Trial, New Directions Bubbas Business and Closing the Gap
  • Grampians ML is using Telehealth videoconferencing to connect rural residents and their GPs to over 100 Specialists to improve access to health care when and where it is most needed.
  • Northern Sydney ML is teaming up with Cancer Council NSW for the Hepatitis B Positive Program. The goal is to raise awareness of Hepatitis B amongst healthcare providers and also the community, since Chronic Hepatitis B is a silent killer and can lead to liver damage. The program works to support GPs with their patient referrals, and patients through six-monthly check-up reminders.
  • The Black Border Theatre project initiated by Hume ML supports young Aboriginal actors to gain confidence and self-esteem. They are currently focussing in health issues associated with building resilience around drug use and the prevention of blood borne viruses.
  • Inner North West Melbourne ML is running an after hours nurse-led outreach service to deliver crucial nursing care and first aid to those experiencing homelessness in Melbournes CBD.
  • Central QLD ML saved the free Diabetes Clinic and Podiatry Clinic in Emerald
  • The Illawarra Shoalhaven ML Population Health and Planning team has prepared a detailed population health profile of the local catchment. The purpose of the Population Health Profile: 2013 is to use the population health approach to identify local health needs and inform the development of focused and responsive primary care services.