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Medicare fight to Canberra

Posted by on 29/06/2018

A BATTLE to keep Albury and Wodonga in the same primary healthcare region will be taken to Canberra next week.

Indi MP Cathy McGowan is pushing for a meeting between the Hume Medicare Local board and Health Minister Peter Dutton.

Hume Medicare Local is funded only until mid-next year.

After then, it and other Medicare Locals across Australia will be replaced by what the government has dubbed Primary Health Networks.

Albury and Wodonga would be placed in separate networks, at odds with the integrated structure of Albury Wodonga Health.

Ms McGowan said she had invited the board to speak to the minister, although the initial contact was likely to be with Mr Dutton’s advisers.

“It’s just to say ‘can you reconsider it please?’,” she said.

“We need Albury and Wodonga to stay together.”

Hume chairwoman Dr Wendy O’Connor said Medicare Locals took care of all non-hospital health services.

“General practice is probably the main player in primary care,” she said.

“But it’s also the other primary health services — it includes community health, mental health.”

Ms McGowan said the structure allowed smaller communities to get access to a range of allied health services.

The federal government is expected to put the networks out to tender.

Wodonga would be in a network extending from Corryong to Mildura, while Albury would be part of an area covering the whole of western NSW up to the Queensland border.

“Who could possibly tender for that?” Ms McGowan said.

“There’s no organisational structure that could do that.”

Dr O’Connor said it would be “ridiculous” to separate Albury and Wodonga.

She and Ms McGowan yesterday called on the wider community to add its weight to a campaign to keep Albury and Wodonga together.

Ms McGowan urged people to write letters of support for an Albury-Wodonga model to her office or that of Farrer MP Sussan Ley.

“This is a really important battle for us to win because it’s actually asking the government to pay attention to our unique circumstances,” she said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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