Proportion of Level B attendances drops: AIHW

Matt Woodley

27/04/2023 4:55:29 PM

While still the most common type of consultation, its use has plateaued despite overall GP attendances having increased.

GP consultation
The proportion of Level B consultations dropped by 6% between 2020–21 and 2021–22.

Of the 189 million GP attendances in 2021–22, more than 57.14% (108 million) were Level B consultations lasting less than 20 minutes, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has revealed.
However, while still the most common attendance, these figures represent a 6% drop compared to 2020–21, when it comprised 63% of the 171 million general practice consultations that year.
Nine-in-10 Australians sought general practice care in 2021–22, with females (92%) slightly more likely to see a GP than males (87%), while they also received more Medicare-subsidised GP services per person (8.3 compared with 6.3 for males).
The 90% of Australians who saw a GP represents a rate above pre-pandemic levels. While COVID restrictions resulted in a drop to 85% in 2020–21, in the five years leading up to this period the rate hovered at around 87–88% of people receiving at least one Medicare-subsidised GP service per year.
The increased attendances coincided with $9.1 billion being spent on general practice consultations, representing 53% of the $17 billion paid in Medicare benefits for primary care services during this period.
At the same time, $4 billion was spent on diagnostic imaging, $2.3 billion went towards specialist attendances, and allied health received $1.8 billion.
The AIHW figures show that the number of Medicare-subsidised GP services per person increased with age and was highest for those aged 80 and over (18.6 services per person).
The report also indicates that a higher proportion of people living in metropolitan Primary Health Network (PHN) areas had a Medicare-subsidised GP attendance after hours (20%), compared with regional PHN areas (10%).
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Prof Constance Dimity Pond   28/04/2023 9:23:07 AM

It would be interesting to track the increase in longer consultations with the increasing proportion of older patients attending general practice. When I did this a year or two ago, it was clear that most of the increased number of longer consultations went to caring for people aged 65 years and over (which of course are those with multiple chronic diseases and psychosocial problems, so take longer).