Victory for Gippsland’s frontline health services

GIPPSLAND Medicare Local has won its bid to operate as the Gippsland Primary Health Network from 1 July.

The newly-focused GPHN will be one of 31 primary health networks across Australia to replace the nation’s 61 Medicare Locals.

The changes are aimed at increasing efficiency and effectiveness as part of the 2014 Federal Budget, with Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley announcing GML’s successful bid on Saturday.

GML board chair Nola Maxfield welcomed the decision, which she said would strengthen frontline health services in Gippsland.

“The GPHN will drive health system improvement and ensure patients and clinicians are working together for better health outcomes,” Dr Maxfield said.

Dr Maxfield said general practice, consumer voice and experience of care were integral aspects to be considered in each stage of GPHN’s planning and decision-making.

“A key difference in the PHN environment will be clinical advisory councils and community advisory committees (who are) ensuring local services and general practice are a major contributor to the new organisation, ” Dr Maxfield said.

The National Rural Health Alliance also welcomed Ms Ley’s announcement, but chief executive Gordon Gregory emphasised the need to begin ground work immediately.

He said all PHNs needed to be open to local facilitation; multi-disciplinary; philosophically-equipped to work in close partnerships and have the will and capacity to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

GML chief executive Peter Quigley said he was confident GML was well-placed to make the transition, and had dedicated the past 10 months aligning services with the GPHN environment.

“With only 11 weeks for the GPHN to be fully operational, we have hit the ground running in transitioning our organisation since the announcement on Saturday,” Mr Quigley said.

“During this time, our organisation remains focused on minimal service disruption for people living in Gippsland.”