Ley reaffirms July 1 date for Health Care Homes trial

The Health Care Homes voluntary trial has been scheduled for mid-2017 — too soon for United General Practice Australia, the group says.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley says the Turnbull Government is committed to its Health Care Homes program, “to find better ways of delivering medical services to an ageing population with one in two Australian living with a chronic condition”.

The announcement came after United General Practice Australia yesterday called for a three to six month delay of stage one of the voluntary trial of Health Care Homes.

Ms Ley says that stage one is scheduled to be rolled out in limited and selected regions from July 2017.

“It is voluntary for medical practices and patients and no doctor is required to participate if they do not want to,” she says.

“It will not start until mid-2017 and it will be fully evaluated before any future roll-out to the wider community.”

Ms Ley says the development of stage one of Health Care Homes includes the views of the medical profession through an advisory group in the Department of Health.

“I welcome the input of the RACGP, the Australian Medical Association and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia throughout the development of the Health Care Homes program,” she says.

“The Government will continue to listen to the input of all stakeholders—consumers, doctors, health care providers—and take on board suggestions to ensure that the roll-out of Health Care Homes is to the benefit of patients, health professionals and the health system as a whole.”

Ms Ley says the Government is committed to continuing with the call for Expressions of Interest from medical practices to participate in the Health Care Homes trial, which closes on 15 December.

UGPA called on the Federal Government to push back the start date on the pilot project, to “allow sufficient time to get this important opportunity to transform the nation’s healthcare system right”.

The group has stated that the implementation of the Health Care Home, including the model, the tiers, and supporting practice tools, has been rushed and risks undermining this vital opportunity to get the model right.

“An extended timeline would allow the profession time to ensure the instruments and tools being used are appropriate and validated by evidence,” it says. “This will allow a comprehensive understanding of the framework and ensure we get the funding mechanisms right in order to support the roll out of the pilot.

“UGPA has reiterated that the profession is prepared and ready to work closely with the Federal Government on this important project, and that the risk of missing the opportunity to make over the nation’s healthcare system for the better is too great.”

UGPA proposed an extension of at least three to six months.

Last week Greens Senator Richard di Natale told guests at the Pharmacy Guild Parliamentary Dinner that the trial was flawed for several reasons, including that it did not adequately engage with pharmacists.

“The Health Care Home trial is one example where we risk failing to capture the full skills and knowledge of Australia’s highly trained pharmacists,” di Natale said.

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