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More doctors from July next year

Medicare Locals will boost GP access to aged care, Roxon says

Health Minister Nicola Roxon says no one will be denied the right to see the doctor of their choice under Medicare Locals.

The first group of Medicare Locals - providing a service connecting patients with doctors, hospitals and health workers - will start operating in July next year.

"They will help provide more coordinated care, improve access to services and drive integration between GPs and primary care services, hospitals and aged care," Roxon said last week.

One of Medicare Locals' primary tasks would be the provision of extra after-hours services.

"There are no changes that will see people lose the right to choose their own doctor or that they would lose their right to a Medicare rebate," Roxon said.

"These changes are about integrating primary care so that people don't fall between the gaps of the health system."

She said Medicare Locals will also assist marginalised people such as those who may not have a GP, don't speak English or who have mental health problems.

"This is not a change to the relationship between patient and doctor, this is a mechanism to support the services that doctors provide, to help coordinate," she said.

Medical Locals will set up rosters with doctors to ensure there is always a GP available after-hours, she said.


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