4839.0.55.001 - Health Services: Patient Experiences in Australia, 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/10/2011   
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Of people aged 15 years and over who had been to a GP in the past year, around 5.6 million were referred to a medical specialist (40%). Rates of referral in the NT were the lowest in the country at 30% (keeping in mind that the survey did not collect data from very remote areas, which represents approximately 24% of the population of the NT).

Rates of referral to a medical specialist increased fairly steadily with age, from 23% of young men aged 15-24 to 56% of men aged 75 years and older; and from 33% of young women aged 15-24 to 49% of women aged 75 years and older.

People assessing their health as fair or poor were far more likely to have been referred to a specialist than people who rated their general health good or better (62% and 37% respectively) and were more likely to have seen a specialist 4 or more times.

Most people who had received a referral had visited a medical specialist more than once in the past year (59%). Around a quarter of people who had been referred had seen a specialist four or more times in the previous 12 months (25%).

Most people reported that they had actually seen the specialist they were most recently referred to (85%). This number was higher for people not born in Australia (88% compared with 83% of people born in Australia).

Rates of seeing a medical specialist were not significantly affected by levels of disadvantage or by remoteness (see Table 3.7).

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