Australians are waiting less time to see their GP and most can get urgent appointments within hours, but they’re twice as likely to seek after-hours home visits as they were a few years ago.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ report on patient experiences in 2016-17 found fewer patients waited longer than they felt was acceptable for a GP appointment, with the proportion falling to 18%, from 23% in 2013-14.
One in 11 people saw a GP for urgent care. Of them, 63% were seen within four hours, and 75% within 24 hours.
The survey found 78% of patients had a preferred usual GP. Almost all gave glowing reports of their doctors’ manners – 92% said their GP listened carefully, 94% agreed they showed respect, and 90% said their GP spent enough time with them.
“These results are outstanding when you consider the pressure under which our GPs are working today,” AMA President Dr Michael Gannon said.
The ABS study indicated cost was not a barrier to GP care, with only 4% of respondents having delayed or foregone a visit for cost reasons.
This showed GPs were continuing to provide accessible, high-quality care despite significant funding pressures, Dr Gannon said.
On after-hours activity, the survey found 27% of patients had an after-hours visit in the latest year, up from 13% in 2013-14. In contrast, those attending late-night clinics dipped from 26% to 18%, while those visiting hospital clinics after hours fell from 19% to 10%.