4839.0 - Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/11/2012   
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23 November 2012
Embargo: 11:30 am (Canberra Time)

Half of us visit the dentist at least once a year

Figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show just under half (49 per cent) of all Australians aged 15 and over have visited a dental professional in the last 12 months. Around 90 per cent of those people went to a private dental clinic on their most recent visit, while nine per cent visited a public dental clinic.

ABS Director of Health Statistics, Louise Gates, said the 2011-12 Patient Experience survey collected information on access and barriers to a range of health care services including general practitioners, dental professionals and medical specialists.

Visits to dental professionals

"The survey showed that just over one in five people who needed to see a dental professional had delayed seeing or had not seen one in the previous 12 months because of the cost," Ms Gates said.

"People aged 25 to 34 were the most likely to delay seeing or not see a dental professional because of cost with 31 per cent, compared with five per cent for those aged 75 years and over.

"Around 27 per cent of people living in areas of greatest disadvantage had delayed going or not gone to a dental professional due to cost, compared with 15 per cent of people in the areas of least disadvantage.

"Of those who had seen a dental professional for urgent care in the previous 12 months, 20 per cent were seen within four hours, while 43 per cent waited two or more days between making the appointment and seeing the dental professional.

Visits to GPs

"Around 14.6 million people aged 15 years and over, or 81 per cent, visited a GP at least once in the previous 12 months. Around 87 per cent of people who saw a GP felt that GPs always or often spent enough time with them," she said.

"Of those who needed to see a GP in the previous 12 months, 27 per cent had waited longer than they felt was acceptable to get an appointment.

Visits to hospitals and emergency departments

"In 2011-12, approximately 2.3 million people aged 15 years and over, or 13 per cent, had been admitted to hospital in the previous 12 months and 2.5 million, or 14 per cent, had visited an emergency department.

"At the time of their most recent visit to an emergency department for their own health, 23 per cent of people thought that the care they needed could have been provided by a GP," Ms Gates said.

Further information can be found in Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4839.0) available for free download from the ABS website (www.abs.gov.au).

Media note
When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.