BETTER access to after-hours medical care will be a priority goal for the new Great South Coast Medical Local board as it sets out to improve the region's health.
The federally-funded organisation network with its regional headquarters in Warrnambool will determine health service gaps across five municipalities and find ways to fill them.
Board chairman John Harte and chief executive Sukhi Arora told The Standard yesterday their goal was to improve service delivery, not look at ways of cutting costs for the government.
They will be going out to communities, doctors, hospital, health clinics and other providers seeking ideas. "Our focus is on local solutions for local problems," Mr Arora said. "I've done similar work in New Zealand where through our work the government put more money into first-level health care.
"We are co-ordinators, like conductors of an orchestra, trying to bring harmony."
Mr Harte said the first target would be to improve after-hours care and it was hoped to have a report by Christmas on the gaps needed to be covered.
"We'll also be conducting a population assessment looking at age sectors and the needs," he said.
"Warrnambool, for example is projected to expand in population and we'll need to look at how to best handle that.
"We'll focus on co-ordinating services for earlier identification and treatment so people don't have to end up in a hospital emergency department."
Mr Harte, a professional business manager specialising in the health sector and government-owned businesses, was elected board chairman on August 7, the day after Mr Arora started as chief executive.
Mr Arora was previously executive officer of Central Bayside Division of General Practice and has had management positions in community health and New Zealand health care.