Rural Doctors Association said new review must deliver

RED-TAPE and funding are hurting sick rural and regional residents.

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia yesterday said a newly announced review must lead to better options for regional areas.

The RDAA will urge the Federal Government to take on the national administration of funding for rural after-hours services as it looks into the administration of out-of-hours health care.

RDAA vice-president Dr John Hall said the current system, which is overseen by Medicare Local, has had a debilitating impact.

"Medicare Locals took over the role of administering federal funding for after-hours care following their establishment under the previous federal Labor Government - but the arrangement has caused significant problems and introduced substantially more red tape for many rural practices" Dr Hall said.

"As a result, many rural practices have been seriously considering whether they can continue to provide after-hours services to their communities should similar arrangements continue in the future.

"RDAA is concerned that, while Medicare Locals will be replaced from July 1, 2015, the administration of after-hours funding could simply be handed to the Primary Health Networks that will replace them.

"If the problems of the current system - such as funding uncertainty and excessive red-tape - are not properly addressed, rural after-hours medical services will continue to be at serious risk of closure.

"After-hours medical services in many rural communities are built on fragile foundations, as they contribute little to a practice's income overall but require local doctors to devote considerable personal time to participate in an after-hours roster."

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