Thursday, September 30, 2010

HEAL Media Release - Local Health Networks

October 1st 2010

HEAL spokesperson, Janet Mays, has expressed cautious support for the Local Health Network (LHNs) structure recently announced by the NSW State Government, as part of the National Health Reform Agreement, saying that any move to deliver better patient care and strengthen local decision making must be applauded. However, HEAL is asking what has really changed for Mountains residents?

“Both Mountains hospitals have been included in the newly formed Nepean Blue Mountains network, which also comprises Nepean, Hawkesbury, Lithgow and Portland hospitals. This grouping makes geographic sense, but one has to ask how will service provision really change for Mountains residents?”

“A smaller bureaucracy is obviously good, but the hub and spoke model that requires Mountains residents to travel to Nepean hospital for so many services remains”.

HEAL is also concerned that both Blue Mountains hospitals are included in a greater Sydney metropolitan network, signalling no change to the rural classification issue that has been one of the major reasons cited for the inability to attract and retain clinicians at BMDAMH.

“We have been seeking rural classification for Blue Mountains hospital for a long time as a way of ensuring that higher entitlements are paid to clinicians. Higher pay structures would at least give our community a fighting chance in terms of recruiting much needed staff and delivering more services locally” she added.

The new networks will be established in January 2011, and the NSW Health system will progressively transition to the new structure over the following 6 to 12 months.

Ms Mays concluded “we look forward to understanding more about the new Local Health Network structure and its implications. HEAL’s focus will be on ensuring that Mountains residents get their fair share of funding for both of our hospitals and that Mountains residents are provided with equitable access to quality health care – in the community or in hospital”.