Behind The News - 10 July 2012
MO asks the experts for their opinions on a key political issue making headlines.
EVERYONE agrees after hours arrangements need fixing, but a meeting between United General Practice Australia (UGPA) and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek has exposed some minor but significant differences in approach within general practice.
With the government to scrap Medicare-administered incentive payments for after hours practices from July 2013, UGPA – comprising the AMA, RACGP, ACRRM, RDAA, GPRA and AGPN – has questioned the change since some MLs are ‘fledgling’ organisations and some practices are currently offering good after hours care.
AML Alliance, however, wants after hours administration to be distanced from Canberra.
Dr Liz Marles
Acting Chair, United General Practice Australia
“We’re not against Medicare Locals running after hours but there are already quite a few practices offering successful after hours services around the country and there’s no good reason to stop them doing this.
In the meeting, United General Practice Australia was supportive of Medicare Locals taking responsibility for after hours where there are service gaps but we wanted to see GPs who are providing quality after hours services that are meeting the needs of the community be supported.
It’s not a turf war but we think MLs should be building on what’s working well, rather than dismantling everything and starting again. We’re very happy for MLs to explore options where there are service gaps and some MLs have said they would continue to provide the PIP, but we need to make sure it’s something that works across the board.
Medicare Locals certainly have a role there.”
Dr Arn Sprogis
Chair, Australian Medicare Local Alliance
“The choices for GPs in after hours are simple: either participate in the ML regionally organised, GP-focused, community-responsive approach, or stick to the government-managed, centrally driven and ill-targeted services and remove the possibility of GPs’ options to manage and design their own after hours services.
The one size fits all is archaic and it’s time the health services of this country were tailored appropriately at a regional level, funded in an accountable way and driven by GPs, other clinicians and the community locally who know what is best for their regional needs.
MLs are fully committed to ensuring good after hours services are not threatened but strengthened and added to.”