Network better for health: Experts

LOCAL and rural health experts have welcomed a proposal to replace the State’s eight current area health services with 15 smaller local health networks.

Under the proposal the North Coast Area Health Service, which currently extends from Tweed to Port Macquarie, would be split in two.

The proposed Northern NSW Local Health Network would encompass Tweed to the north, Grafton to the south and Urbenville to the west.

The head of the University of Rural Health, Professor Lesley Barclay, yesterday said the geographical footprint of the network aligned with the local primary health care network allowing both tiers of medical treatment to collaborate better.

Prof Barclay also backed the proposal that the networks have governing councils that included members with a variety of health, clinical, and business backgrounds.

“It’s extremely important that experienced clinicians have input into decisions and that the boards contain people with knowledge of different business models,” she said.

The proposal follows an agreement reached in April between the State and Federal governments to reform health care.

Lismore Duty MLC Peter Primrose said the proposals were developed following feedback from clinicians, health professionals, and communities.

“Some very clear themes emerged including support for more localised controlover health delivery and greater clinician engagement,” he said.

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