Dept discards struggling GP divisions

GENERAL practice divisions are being forced to fight for government support to pay out rental leases and other pre-existing contracts when their roles are handed to Medicare Locals (MLs), with the Department of Health and Ageing disputing the extent of its liability.

The true cost of the ML shake-up emerged late last month when one of the first divisions to be de-funded, Queensland’s Moreton Bay GP Network, asked the department to pay out the rest of its lease – signed before the ML timetable was announced – but it refused.

Former division chair and current federal AMA council member Dr Wayne Herdy said while the department had eventually agreed to contribute to the division’s wind-up costs, the support came only after a protracted process.

“We applied, [the department] refused, we reapplied, we argued, they obtained legal advice they refused to share with us, then finally they agreed to pay. There was a long and