News

Remoteness and its effect on GP access


Morgan Liotta


8/11/2018 12:12:27 PM

Patient access to general practice varies with remoteness and GP:patient ratios, according to the RACGP’s General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018.

According to General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018, there are 61.5 GPs per 100,000 population in Australia’s very remote areas
According to General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018, there are 61.5 GPs per 100,000 population in Australia’s very remote areas

Australians currently see their GP more than any other health professional, with 87.8% of the population visiting general practice each year
 
However, barriers to accessing a GP increase outside of urban areas, with GP:patient ratios decreasing as remoteness increases.
 
According to data from the RACGP’s General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018, there are:

  • 101.3 GPs per 100,000 population in major cities
  • 99.5 GPs per 100,000 population in inner-regional areas
  • 88.6 GPs per 100,000 population in outer-regional areas
  • 71.3 GPs per 100,000 population in remote areas
  • 61.5 GPs per 100,000 population in very remote areas.
Unsurprisingly, lower ratios mean patients in more remote areas wait longer to see a GP.
 
Feedback on patient experience in Health of the Nation reports that 33% of patients in outer-regional, remote and very remote areas can wait 24 hours or more to access a GP for urgent care, in comparison to 27% of patients in inner-regional areas and 24% in major cities.
 
A third of patients in major cities (65%) reported a wait time of four hours or less to see a GP, compared to 60% in inner-regional areas, and 54% in outer-regional, remote and very remote areas.
 
Health of the Nation confirms that, although barriers to accessing a GP are greater in regional and remote parts of the country, GPs remain the most accessible medical specialist in these areas.
 
Access to and availability of GPs are also contributing factors to why patients delay or avoid visiting a GP, with just 4% of the 26% of Australia’s total population who delay or avoid visiting a GP citing cost as the reason.
 
GP unavailability, longer wait times due to lower GP:patient ratios, and patient barriers such as long travel times and being too busy, were all specified as further reasons for delaying or avoiding visiting a GP.



health of the nation rural and remote wait times





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