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Australia makes a start on primary healthcare reform, at last

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d1341 (Published 01 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1341
  1. Melissa Sweet
  1. 1Sydney

More than three years after its initial election with a mandate for health reform, Australia’s Labor government has released plans for how it expects a new national network of primary healthcare organisations to operate.

The first 15 of the organisations, to be called Medicare Locals, are due to start in July, with the remainder expected to be in operation by the middle of next year, when all core funding for Divisions of General Practice will cease.

The government released guidelines for Medicare Local applicants on 22 February giving Divisions of General Practice and other applicants a deadline of several weeks (April 5), although the boundaries for the organisations are not yet finalised.

Health policy experts have raised concerns about the ability of Medicare Locals to bring about change, and warn that they may not lead to a healthier population, or a fairer, better healthcare system.

Medicare Locals are to be established as independent companies, and managed by skills-based boards. They are expected to operate under an organisational membership model, with members such as local …

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