Fewer people delaying seeing GPs


Fewer Australians are likely to delay or not see their doctor at all than they were six years ago, according to a new report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Program Manager of Health and Disability Statistics, Justine Boland, said in 2018-19 less than a quarter of people (22.8 per cent) delayed seeing or did not see a GP when needed compared to 27.3 per cent in 2017-18, the lowest rate in six years.

“When looking into the reasons for this, cost was a factor for only 3.4 per cent of these people," Ms Boland said. "However younger people (15 to 24) were more likely to delay or not see a GP because of cost (3.7 per cent) compared to people aged 65 years and over (0.9 per cent).”

The 2018-19 Patient Experience Survey also showed a slight decrease in the number of people delaying or not seeing a dental professional when needed compared to last year (28.2 per cent and 30.4 per cent respectively), with cost the reason for 17.6 per cent of these people.

"Cost was a more predominant factor for people living in areas of greatest socio-economic disadvantage (24.3 per cent) compared to those living in areas of least disadvantage (11.4 per cent).”

In other survey results, 13.8 per cent of people visited a hospital emergency department for their treatment in 2018-19 with 20.5 per cent reporting they went to hospital because a GP was not available.

"People living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas (29.5 per cent) were more likely to report visiting an emergency department because a GP was unavailable than those living in major cities (17.8 per cent)."

The survey also showed that more than half (56.9 per cent) of people surveyed had some form of private health insurance, the same as last year.

People aged 35 years and over were more likely to have private health insurance cover (59.6 per cent) than those aged 15 to 34 years (51.6 per cent) similar to last year’s rates of 59.9 per cent and 51.2 per cent respectively.

Further information can be found in Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2018-19 (cat. no. 4839.0), available for free download from the ABS website, http://www.abs.gov.au.

Media notes:

  • For this publication, dental professional includes dentist, dental hygienist and dental specialists.
  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
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