PEOPLE in rural, remote and regional areas were up to 17% less likely to have seen a general practitioner than city residents in the last year, a national primary health care report revealed on Thursday.
The National Health Performance Authority Healthy Communities report put a spotlight on what health services Australians accessed, and what they thought of the service, in 2010-11.
It was the first major report from the authority, and showed numerous indications that people in more remote areas were less likely to get a good health service.
Focussed on the nation's 61 Medicare Locals areas, the report used Australian Bureau of Statistics data in its findings on 48 key measures of primary health care service.
It found the percentage of patients who delayed or avoided seeing a doctor due to the cost was up to five times higher in several regional areas than in the major cities.
The percentage of patients who had seen a GP in the previous 12 months, and who felt they waited too long to see a doctor was three times as high in some areas than others.
Results in the report found areas classed as regional 1 and 2, and rural 1 and 2, were consistently lower performers across several indicators.
Of the seven Medicare Local areas with the "most desirable experiences", five were in metropolitan areas, with one each in regional 2, and rural 1 areas.
The two regions with patients who had a preferred GP across regional and rural areas were Wide Bay and the Lower Murray, each with 95% satisfaction.
Of the 11 Medicare Local areas with the most "least desirable experiences", eight were in regional or rural areas, and three were in metropolitan areas.Most of those least desirable ratings were for preferred GP at a relatively low average of 78%, while adults who rated their health excellent or good were also lower in regions, at 81% compared with 89% in the big cities.
- Adults who rated health excellent, very good, good: 89%
- Adults who saw a GP in previous year: 80%
- Average number of GP attendances per person: 5.1
- Average number of GP after-hours attendances per person: 0.33
- Waiting too long for a GP appointment: 13%
- Having a preferred GP: 82%
- Cost barriers to seeing a GP: 8%
- Their GP listened carefully: 91%
- Adults who rated health excellent, very good, good: 82%
- Adults who saw a GP in previous year: 81%
- Average number of GP attendances per person: 4.9
- Average number of GP after-hours attendances per person: 0.20
- Waiting too long for a GP appointment: 16%
- Having a preferred GP: 77%
- Cost barriers to seeing a GP: 9%
- Their GP listened carefully: 87%
SOURCE: National Health Performance Authority, 2013.
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