Australian Bureau of Statistics

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4839.0.55.001 - Health Services: Patient Experiences in Australia, 2009  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/07/2010   
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MEDIA RELEASE
30 July, 2010
Embargoed: 11.30 am (AEST)
93/2010

MOST AUSTRALIANS USE HEALTH SERVICES BUT ACCESS, COST AN ISSUE FOR SOME

The ABS released the results of the first national Patient Experience Survey today, examining health care for Australians in the last 12 months.

Four out of five people aged 15 years and over had seen a general practitioner (GP) in the past year. Just under a fifth of these had seen a GP for urgent medical care. Around 6% had seen a GP after hours. In around a sixth of Australian households with children under 15, at least one child had seen a GP after hours. South Australians had the highest rates of seeing GPs after hours for both their own and their children's health (9% and 23% respectively).

Around three out of four people seeking urgent medical care reported seeing a GP on the same day that they needed the care (75%). Of the people that had seen a GP on the same day, 80% had seen one within 4 hours. Just over one in ten people, however, did not see a GP until two or more days after making an appointment for urgent medical care.

A quarter of households with children under 15 had at least one child who had seen a GP for urgent medical care. Most households reported that their children had seen a GP within 4 hours of making an appointment (77%), or after 4 hours but on the same day (14%).

Around one in six people who had seen a GP reported that they had waited longer than they felt acceptable to get an appointment. One in five people who were referred to a medical specialist felt they had waited longer than was acceptable to get an appointment.

The survey found that some people delayed or did not get some types of medical care due to cost. For example:
  • 1 in 16 people had delayed seeing or not seen a GP;
  • around 1 in 11 people with a prescription had delayed getting or did not get their medication; and
  • around 1 in 10 people referred to a medical specialist had delayed seeing or did not see the specialist.

Except for hospital admissions and emergency visits, women used health services more than men.

Western Australians had the highest rates of being admitted to hospital (16%) and going to a hospital emergency department (16%).

A quarter of the people that had visited an emergency department in the last year thought the care they had gone there for could have been provided by a GP. This was also the case in over a third of households with children who had been taken to emergency.

About one in 20 people reported having medical care that caused a harmful side-effect. In a little over half of these cases, the event causing the harm had occurred at home. Slightly more than half of those who had experienced a harmful side-effect reported they had been informed that this might occur.


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