New medical service launched in Dubbo

DUBBO residents can expect better health services after the Western NSW Medicare Local (WML) officially opened yesterday.

Almost 100 people filled the Talbragar Street office to listen to WML chief executive officer Dr Jenny Beange explain how the new service worked.

The role of WML was to connect and integrate different health systems and focused on preventative health.

Dr Beange said it was a great privilege to lead WML as it worked to make significant improvements to primary health services.

She said the region faced a number of challenges which included a significant number of workforce shortages, high Aboriginal population and a heavy burden of chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

"If we don't invest in preventative care in the near future, the health system simply won't cope with what's coming," she said.

About $417 million was being invested in the creation of a nationwide network of the primary health care organisations called Medicare Locals.

The federal Department of Health and Ageing reports that they will support health professionals, while improving both the delivery of primary care services at a community level and access to after-hours primary care.

The primary health care system, including GP and allied health services, is fragmented, with some patients finding it difficult to get the treatment they need, according to the department.

"As a Medicare Local, we want to have a ground up approach and we are not as some think another part of bureaucracy," Dr Beange said.

"We want to make best use of our ability to find local solutions to problems which face us.

"We are not doing anything on our own, it is all partnerships."

Dr Beange said the WML worked with the Aboriginal medical service, private providers and the Western NSW Local Health District.

Senator Matt Thistlethwaite officially opened the WML on behalf of federal health minister Tanya Plibersek.

As the population aged, people access health service more frequently burdening the health system, Senator Thistlethwaite said.

"Medicare Local closes the gaps in primary health services," he said.

"Preventative health is the focus and this will be the key to meeting the challenge of an ageing population."

The WML has inbuilt Telehealth infrastructure to enable all health services in the region to connect and provides a network of eHealth support across northern and western NSW.

Community information sessions across western NSW and the appointment of eight community liaison officers were among the WML achievements in 2012.

The new WML office is at 108-110 Talbragar Street.


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