Medicare groups seek answers to cross-border anomalies 

PROBLEMS faced by Border patients in accessing health services across the Murray River have been put to the NSW government by two Medicare Local groups.

NSW cross border commissioner Steve Toms recently met the Albury-based Hume Medicare Local and the Bendigo-based Loddon Mallee Murray Medicare Local.

Hume covers much of North East Victoria and the Southern Riverina, while Loddon Mallee Murray extends from Castlemaine to Swan Hill and Deniliquin.

Both organisations are focused on non-hospital primary care.

Mr Toms was appointed by the NSW government to provide advocacy for businesses, organisations and residents in border communities.

The Medicare Locals discussed their concerns with him in the hope of raising awareness in the NSW Parliament.

They decided to take a joint approach on the health system issues facing cross-border patients in order to create specific solutions.

Hume chief executive David Dart and Loddon Mallee Murray boss Matt Jones led the discussion with Mr Toms and the Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

This focused specifically on inequalities faced by people in lower NSW and the North East.

One issue is concern about health services on one side of the border being placed under extra pressure through taking patients from the other state.

Mr Jones said it was quite understandable that many NSW residents in his area acc-essed services in Victoria.

“This generates two major issues,” he said.

“It masks the level of need for NSW-based services, and the Victorian health system isn’t equipped to deal with the additional demand generated by NSW residents.”

Mr Jones said because both Medicare Locals are cross- border, they thought it would be more effective to work together on finding local solutions.

Mr Dart said any support the Medicare Locals could receive at state or federal level “would be great”.

“But we’re also looking at what can be realistically achieved through our connections locally,” he said