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Nine in 10 Australians report positive GP experiences


Morgan Liotta


25/02/2020 3:13:45 PM

Most people rate their healthcare experience positively – but that experience can vary depending on where they live, according to the AIHW.

GP and patient
Almost 85% of Australians saw a GP in the previous 12 months in 2017–18, continuing the trend of GP visits being the most common out of any other health professional.

Australian adults reported their healthcare experiences of more than 20 aspects – including self-reported health status, use of health services and cost barriers to accessing services – across Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.
 
The results, based on Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data and combined with PHN data, were collated to produce the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) ‘Patient experiences in Australia by small geographic areas in 2017–18’ report.
 
In 2017–18, 84.3% of Australians saw a GP in the previous 12 months, continuing the trend of GP visits being the most common out of any other health professional.
 
The highest proportion of GP visits – 88% – were in the Western Sydney (NSW) and Murray (Victoria) PHNs, followed by 87% in the Country SA PHN.
 
Western NSW and Northern Territory* PHNs recorded the lowest percentage of people visiting their GP in 2017–18, at 79%.
 
Overall, patients reported positive experiences, with more than nine in 10 (94%) adults felt their GP ‘always’ or ‘often’ showed respect for what they had to say. Across PHN areas, this percentage ranged from 87% in Western NSW, to 97% in Northern Sydney.
 
Similarly, around nine in 10 (91%) felt their GP ‘always’ or ‘often’ spent enough time with them, ranging from 86% in the Northern Territory PHN to 95% in Western Queensland.
 
These figures echo findings from the RACGP’s General Practice: Health of the Nation 2019 report, which confirms that 76% of people felt their GP always spent enough time with them, 81% showed respect, and 74% listened carefully.
 
ABS data from previous years indicates consistent positive patient experiences when visiting their GP, reinforcing the importance of continuity of care, particularly for patients with chronic disease.
 
‘Having a usual GP is essential when it comes to positive healthcare experiences ... and patients who have been seeing the same GP for longer rate their care more positively,’ the Health of the Nation report states.
 
Despite most adults (86%) rating their health as ‘excellent’, ‘very good’ or ‘good’ across the nation – similar to previous years – half (50%) reported having a long-term health condition, the ABS found. Across PHN areas, these ranged from 64% in Murrumbidgee (NSW) and 38% in the Northern Territory.
 
Health of the Nation also reported that 77% of patients have a preferred GP and 72% are always able to see their preferred GP when needed.
 
*The AIHW notes that data for the Northern Territory PHN should be interpreted with caution, as the Patient Experience Survey excluded the Indigenous Community Strata, which comprises around 25% of the estimated resident population of the Northern Territory living in private dwellings.
 
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