Analysis: How has the AGPN gotten into this mess?
THE AGPN’s paralysis is the culmination of a reform beset by the federal government’s poor communication, inconsistency and inadequate consultation with key players regarding the transition to Medicare Locals.
All available evidence points to the newly purposeless AGPN being held to ransom because of a government edict that no single health profession, including GPs, could have control of Medicare Local boards. In that context, the AGPN and more recently the AML Alliance were handed the task of convincing general practice that it remained pivotal.
The alliance now must navigate a democratic quagmire of differing membership and representation systems across the now 61 MLs to form a nationally cohesive after hours network amid calls to retain many existing after hours arrangements.
A recent example of poor communication arose when the department decided NSW’s Hunter Rural Division of General Practice (HRDGP) couldn’t run its own ML, just a few days before its funding ended. In response, and not surprisingly, HRDGP is refusing to hand over its assets to the neighbouring ML which stepped in.
Even the first 19 MLs were advised just days before that the changeover was to occur, a year ago. They then waited months for contracts, grappled with previously unknown directives within them, and in many cases delayed signing until mid-summer.
That a consensus on the AGPN’s fate cannot be reached may be alarming. But given what has come before, it is hardly surprising.