More is less for Medicare Locals

The Gillard Government’s decision to increase the number of Medicare Locals (MLs) has received a mixed reaction from the divisions of general practice, with some claiming it will stymie and delay health reform. 

As part of the revamped COAG deal, Prime Minister Julia Gillard raised the number of MLs beyond the planned 57 to ensure the organisations were more responsive to community needs. 

But AGPN chair Dr Emil Djakic said the decision would result in weaker, less effective organisations.

“Creating a larger number of what will be less capable organisations with a dilution of funding and capacity will stymie [the] reform agenda,” Dr Djakic said. 

He added that any changes to ML boundaries would delay invitations to apply, which could see the government miss the scheduled implementation date for the roll-out of the ML program. The first MLs are scheduled to be up and running by 1 July.