4839.0 - Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2017-18 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/11/2018   
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GENERAL PRACTITIONERS

General practitioners (GPs) are the first point of contact for health issues for many Australians. People see GPs for a variety of reasons including short term illnesses, preventive health practices and management of long term health conditions. It is therefore important that people are able to see a GP in a timely manner and receive care that meets their needs, both in terms of ease of access and the quality of care provided. This chapter presents data on people who saw a GP in the last 12 months for their own health. Respondents were asked about the frequency of their visits, waiting times, barriers to accessing care and their experience with the GP.

Most people aged 15 years and over saw a GP in the last year. The graph below shows that GPs were the most common health service used in 2017-18, with over eight in ten people (84%) or 16.5 million seeing a GP in the last 12 months. Dental professionals were the second most common health service used (50%), followed by medical specialists (37%). Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, there was a slight increase in the proportion of people who saw a GP (83% compared with 84%), while the proportion of people aged 15 to 24 years who saw a GP increased from 71% in 2016-17 to 75% in 2017-18. See Tables 1 and 2.3 in Downloads.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons 15 years and over, use of selected health services in the last 12 months

Footnote(s): (a) Includes dentist, dental hygienist and dental specialists.

Source(s): Patient Experience Survey: Summary of Findings



In 2017-18, as in previous years, a higher proportion of females than males saw a GP in the last 12 months (89% compared with 80%). The proportion of people who saw a GP generally increased with age. Three quarters of people (75%) aged 15 to 24 saw a GP compared with nine in ten people (96%) aged 65 and over. See Table 2.3 in Downloads.

Use of GPs was also related to health characteristics, with people who rated their health as fair or poor being more likely to see a GP than those who rated their health as excellent, very good or good (95% compared with 83%). Further to this, people with a long term health condition were more likely to see a GP than those without (95% compared with 74%). See Table 3.2 in Downloads.

Of those who saw a GP, around one in eight saw a GP on twelve or more occasions in the last 12 months. The frequency of seeing a GP varied with age and health conditions. Of people aged 85 years and over who saw a GP, over one third (35%) saw a GP on twelve or more occasions in the last 12 months, compared with only one in fourteen people (7%) aged 15 to 24 years. Those who rated their health as fair or poor were about five times more likely to see a GP on 12 or more occasions than those who rated their health as excellent, very good or good (41% compared with 8%). Those with a long term health condition were six times more likely to see a GP on twelve or more occasions than those without (20% compared with 3%). See Tables 5.3 and 6.2 in Downloads.

WAITING TIMES

The proportion of people waiting longer than they felt acceptable for a GP appointment has decreased from 23% in 2013-14 to 19% in 2015-16 and has remained stable since then. Females were more likely than males to report waiting longer than they felt acceptable (21% compared with 18%). People aged 15 to 64 were more likely to report waiting longer than they felt acceptable for a GP appointment than those aged 65 and over (21% compared with 12%). See Tables 4 and 5.3 in Downloads.

People living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to report waiting longer than they felt acceptable than those living in areas of least disadvantage (21% compared with 17%). Likewise, those living in outer regional, remote and very remote areas were more likely to report waiting longer than they felt acceptable than those living in major cities (22% compared with 19%). See Table 6.2 in Downloads.

One in eleven people (9%) saw a GP for urgent medical care. Of those who saw a GP for urgent medical care, nearly two thirds (63%) were seen by a GP within four hours of making an appointment, one in ten (10%) waited four hours or more but were seen within 24 hours of making an appointment, and more than one quarter (27%) waited 24 hours or more. See Tables 1 and 5.3 in Downloads.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons 15 years and over, time between making appointment and seeing GP for most recent urgent medical care

Source(s): Patient Experience Survey: Summary of Findings



People living in major cities were more likely to be seen within four hours than those living in inner regional areas and people living in outer regional, remote and very remote areas (66% compared with 57% and 59% respectively). See Table 6.2 in Downloads.

BARRIERS

The Patient Experience Survey collected data from those who did not access health services, as well as from those who did. It is therefore possible to obtain information from people who may have needed to access a health service, but did not access this service, and the reasons they did not access the health service.

In 2017-18, of those who needed to see a GP in the last 12 months, one in twenty five (4%) delayed seeing or did not see a GP at least once due to cost. This is consistent with 2016-17. Females were more likely to delay seeing or not see a GP due to cost than males (5% compared with 3%), as were people aged 15 to 54 years than those aged 55 years and over (5% compared with 2%). See Tables 4 and 5.3 in Downloads.

People living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to delay seeing or not see a GP due to cost than those living in areas of least disadvantage (4% compared with 3%). Likewise, those living in outer regional, remote and very remote areas were more likely to delay seeing or not see a GP due to cost than those living in major cities (5% compared with 4%). See Table 6.2 in Downloads.

AFTER HOURS GP CARE

After hours GPs provide flexibility and convenience in accessing health care when required. This may alleviate pressure on the wider health system, as people with non-life threatening illnesses or injuries are able to see an after hours GP instead of visiting an Emergency Department.

In 2017-18, one in eleven people (9%) saw an after hours GP in the last 12 months. This rate has remained stable since 2013-14. As with other health services, more females than males saw an after hours GP (10% compared with 7%). Those aged 15 to 34 years were twice as likely to have seen an after hours GP as those aged 65 years and over (10% compared with 5%). See Tables 1 and 2.3 in Downloads.

People who rated their health as fair or poor were more likely to see an after hours GP than those who rated their health as excellent, very good or good (12% compared with 8%). Those with a long term health condition were more likely to see an after hours GP than those without (11% compared with 6%). See Table 3.2 in Downloads.

People living in major cities were more likely to see an after hours GP than those living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas (9% compared with 6%). See Table 3.2 in Downloads.

Nearly one in five people (19%) who needed to see an after hours GP did not see one at all. This has decreased from 25% in 2013-14. See Table 7 in Downloads.

Of those who saw an after hours GP, the type of clinic most visited was a regular general practice clinic (41%) (similar to previous years), followed by home visits (28%) and late night clinics (19%). The proportion of people who had a home visit has more than doubled from 13% in 2013-14 to 28% in 2017-18. Conversely, the proportion of people visiting late night clinics has decreased from 26% in 2013-14 to 19% in 2017-18, and those visiting an after hours clinic at a hospital from 19% in 2013-14 to 11% in 2017-18. See Table 8.2 in Downloads.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons 15 years and over, type of clinic visited for most recent after hours GP services(b)

Footnote(s): (b) After hours means before 8am or after 1pm on a Saturday, any time on a Sunday or Public Holiday, or before 8am or after 8pm on any other day.

Source(s): Patient Experience Survey: Summary of Findings



Of those who saw an after hours GP, 55% saw an after hours GP once, 33% saw an after hours GP two to three times, and 12% saw an after hours GP four or more times. See Table 8.2 in downloads.

PRESCRIBED MEDICATION

Over two thirds of people (70%) aged 15 years and over had received a prescription for medication from a GP in the last 12 months, an increase from 68% in 2016-17, partly due to an increase for 15 to 24 year olds (54% in 2016-17 compared with 58% in 2017-18). See Tables 1 and 2.3 in Downloads.

Of all people who needed a prescription for medication, one in fourteen (7%) delayed getting or did not get prescribed medication due to cost. This was more likely for people living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage than those living in areas of least disadvantage (10% compared with 5%). See Tables 4 and 6.2 in Downloads.

EXPERIENCE WITH GPs

The way a patient is treated by a health professional is an important aspect of their satisfaction with their care. Respondents who had seen a GP were asked for their perceptions on how they were treated.

Of those who saw a GP in the last 12 months, 74% reported that the GP always listened carefully to them, 81% reported that they always showed them respect and 76% reported that they always spent enough time with them. These rates were lower than those reported for both medical specialists (80%, 83% and 80%) and dental professionals (85%, 88% and 88%). These rates have remained consistent with 2016-17 (75%, 81% and 76% respectively). Males were more likely than females to report that the GP always listened carefully to them (76% compared with 73%), always showed them respect (82% compared with 80%) and always spent enough time with them (78% compared with 75%). See Tables 5.3, 11.3 and 14.3 in Downloads.

Young people aged 15 to 34 years were less likely than those aged 65 years and over to feel that the GP always listened to them (67% compared with 83%), always showed them respect (75% compared with 87%) and always spent enough time with them (70% compared with 84%).