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    The Local Hospital/Health Networks look like they will be state-controlled successors to regional health services. Surely they will dominate the Medicare Locals, which will be independent companies with an uncertain stream of Federal [under] funding? How can health reforms succeed when we are still left with a state-Commonwealth split and all the consequent blame game/cost shifting? Real reform would have simplified the whole system and brought ALL local health services – hospitals, primary care etc together in a single group. Instead we have a loose collection of complicated bits – more like a decaff skinny soy latte.

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    The Government’s decision to ask the Australian General Practice Network (AGPN) to coordinate and manage the Medicare Locals network means that MLs will not develop as comprehensive primary care planning and coordination bodies, and my guess is they will wither on the vine without the participation of key community and consumer interests.
    Our experience indicates that there is very little evidence in their ML submissions made so far that the Divisions (previously the constituent bodies of the AGPN) had any intention to recognise a primary care system that included community health services, local government, other relevant services and consumers beyond GPs. Now having the AGPN managing the development of the ML seems to just entrench this narrow view.
    As I see it, the AGPN is a business association comparable to the Australian Industry Group or any other industry body – its role is to look after the interests of a large number of GP businesses – and, like many industry associations has been very happy to accept considerable government funding to maintain itself. The Government’s decision in relation to the AGPN now provides that organisation with a strong basis for effectively protecting GP businesses from other health providers.
    So we have the weird situation where the Government apparently commissions a private industry body to manage the development and coordination of government funded private companies that will look after the interests of private businesses.


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