Healthy outlook for Medicare locals

BIG helpings of big topics are among the menu items on the plate of the new Mid North Coast Local Health Network (MNCLHN) Governing Council, which met for the first time on Wednesday.

The organisation of mental health and community health services, and the details of the proposed new Medicare Locals and how these will mesh with hospitals and other health services, are among these items.

Medicare Locals are a new nationwide network for primary health care organisations, broadly based around the Divisions of General Practice.

Their set-up has been funded with $417- million from the Federal Government as part of the new National Health and Hospitals Network, but details on how they will operate at the local level are still sketchy.

The chairman of the MNCLHN governing council, Warren Grimshaw, said the first gathering, held in Port Macquarie, had seen a ‘full house’ of governing council members, and the meeting had mainly been taken up with decisions on meeting procedures.

“There is a great interest in funding and the issue of community relationships – how we relate to the community and get input,” he said.

Many services are still being provided through the old North Coast Area Health Service structure, but Mr Grimshaw said there was plenty of goodwill between CEOs and chairs of the two new organisations, and he was confident they were on track for the full separation into the North Coast and Mid North Coast LHNs by the June 30 deadline.

“Some second-tier positions in key

areas will be advertised in the fairly near future,” Mr Grimshaw said.

“We have established committees for audit, finance and health care quality.”

The next meeting of the governing

council will be held in Coffs Harbour on March 2.

Ironically while the governing council members were digesting the details of their new smaller LHN, carved off the large North Coast Area Health Network, the CEO of the Mid North Coast Division of General Practice, Peter Spence, was attending a workshop discussing the North Coast’s new Medicare Local, the boundaries of which closely resemble the old NCAHS.

The Medicare Local boundaries stretch from Hastings Macleay to the Tweed.

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