Medicare Locals: Evolution needs time

D-day for Medicare Locals is 1 July, the date when the final group of 25 start work. Paul Smith takes a look at the history of its painful evolution and the hopes wrapped up in its future.

This week should be one of celebration. It marks the arrival of a complete network of Medicare Locals to heal the fractures in a health system addicted to the expensive and painful business of treating the sick in hospital.

Everyone still hates the name, but Medicare Locals were a fundamental part of primary care reform and, in truth, the only genuine primary care reform the government has managed to deliver.

The ambitions they encompass are significant: filling the holes in after-hours care, ensuring the elderly can access medical care, and overcoming the inequities faced by the mentally ill.

They are about saving