Web update: Australians’ experiences with access to health care in 2013–14 - Media & Resources - Media release

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Web update: Australians’ experiences with access to health care in 2013–14

Media release

EMBARGOED TO 1AM, THURSDAY 1 OCTOBER 2015

People 2 to 3 times more likely to avoid seeing a GP due to cost in some areas

Nearly 10% of people living in some parts of Australia say they have delayed or avoided seeing a GP due to cost – more than two to three times the rate seen in some other parts of the country, new information shows.

The first national figures to show people’s experiences with the health care system specific to each of the new 31 Primary Health Network (PHN) areas also reveal that in 2013–14, people in some areas were more than two to three times as likely to delay or avoid filling a prescription due to cost.

The data update reveals people’s experiences across 14 measures of the health care system including access, cost barriers to care, admissions to hospital, whether Australians had a preferred GP and how they rated their health.

PHNs were established by the Australian Government in July to support primary health services across Australia. Today’s new information provides the first nationally comparable picture of people’s experiences with health care across PHN areas, and is intended to help these new organisations to better understand the health care needs of their communities.

The data update shows that in 2013–14:

  • The percentage of adults who said they delayed or did not see a GP due to cost could be two to three times higher in some PHN areas compared to others. Rates range from as low as 2-3% in some areas (Central and Eastern Sydney, Northern Sydney, Western Sydney, Nepean Blue Mountains and Hunter New England and Central Coast) to as high as 7-9% in other areas (South Eastern NSW, Murrumbidgee, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory and Murray)
  • The percentage of adults who said they delayed or avoided filling a prescription due to cost could be more than twice as high in some PHN areas compared to others. Rates range from as low as 4-5% in some areas (Northern Sydney, Country WA, Central and Eastern Sydney and South Eastern Melbourne) to as high as 10-13% in other areas (Brisbane North, Northern Queensland, Perth North, South Western Sydney, Brisbane South and Darling Downs and West Moreton).

The data also show big differences in GP waiting times across Australia, with people living in some areas more than twice as likely to report waiting too long for a GP appointment as in others. Rates ranged from as low as 15-17% in some areas (Gold Coast, Brisbane North and Northern Sydney) to as high as 30-38% in other areas (Country WA and Western NSW).

The data update also includes some measures of the extent to which Australians use health services. A higher or lower score on these measures does not indicate good or bad performance, but may still be useful to PHNs when considered alongside other information about outcomes.

Across Australia, the percentage of adults who said they saw a GP in the previous 12 months ranged from as high as 85-86% in some PHN areas (South Eastern Melbourne, Central Queensland and Sunshine Coast, Adelaide, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory, North Coast (NSW) and Nepean Blue Mountains) to as low as 69-75% in others (Western Queensland, Gold Coast and Country WA).

The percentage of adults who said they saw a medical specialist in the previous 12 months ranged from as high as 40-41% in some areas (North Western Melbourne, Western Victoria, Northern Sydney, Nepean Blue Mountains and Gippsland) to as low as 23-28% in other areas (Western Queensland and Country WA).

Two new measures previously not reported by the Performance Authority – the percentage of people who said they needed to see a GP but did not, and the percentage of people who said they saw a GP after hours in the preceding 12 months – are also included in the data update.

See the new PHN-level results for the patient experience measures on the Performance Authority’s MyHealthyCommunities website, www.myhealthycommunities.gov.auExternal link, opens in a new window..

Note to media:

  • A summary of the 14 self-reported measures is available to view in the PDF version of the media release.

Measures included in the MyHealthyCommunities Patient Experience survey web update, 2013–14

Indicator Detail
How many Australians rate their health positively? The percentage of adults who reported excellent, very good or good health.
Australians with a long-term health condition The percentage of adults who reported having a long-term health condition.
Seeing a GP The percentage of adults who saw a GP in the preceding 12 months.
Seeing a GP for urgent care The percentage of adults who saw a GP for urgent medical care in the preceding 12 months.
Seeing a medical specialist The percentage of adults who saw a medical specialist in the preceding 12 months.
Admissions to hospital The percentage of adults who were admitted to any hospital in the preceding 12 months.
Visits to hospital EDs The percentage of adults who went to any hospital emergency department for their own health in the preceding 12 months.
Having a preferred GP The percentage of adults who had a preferred GP in the preceding 12 months.
Accessing a preferred GP The percentage of adults who could not access their preferred GP in the preceding 12 months.
Waiting times for GP appointments The percentage of adults who felt they waited longer than acceptable to get an appointment with a GP.
Cost barriers to GP care The percentage of adults who did not see or delayed seeing a GP due to cost in the preceding 12 months.
Cost barriers to prescribed medication The percentage of adults who delayed or avoided filling a prescription due to cost in the preceding 12 months.
Needed to see a GP but did not The percentage of adults who needed to see a GP but did not in the preceding 12 months.
Seeing a GP after hours The percentage of adults who saw a GP after hours in the preceding 12 months.