We’re a sick lot: Wide Bay queues for GPs

A STUDY has given the Wide Bay region an unhealthy diagnosis.

The ground-breaking National Health Performance Authority report has found more than 15% of people in the Wide Bay area, including Fraser Coast, visited GPs at least 12 times between 2012 and 2013.

It is the highest figure of the nation's lower-income regional areas.

The report provides the most-detailed picture yet about Australia's frequent users of GP services.

Over 5% of people in the region saw a GP 20 or more times.

About 57% of Australians who attended GPs 20 or more times were over 60, and one-third reported having three or more long-term health conditions.

The people who attend GPs more often tend to be older, less well-off and more likely to have several long-term health conditions.

They were also found to have seen several different GPs.

The amount of money Medicare paid out for non-hospital services on average for very high and frequent GP attendees in the region was $2308.

 

Australians visit GPs an average of five or six times.

But just over 10% of locals did not attend a GP.

NHPA chief Dr Diane Watson said there would be different factors at play in each local area explaining its mix of frequent and less frequent GP attendees.

"Patients who see GPs much more than the average are of interest to health and hospital managers, doctors and nurses because they have the most need for effective, well co-ordinated health care," Dr Watson said.

"The report will give vital information to health providers in each community that may help them to better understand their unique patient populations."

One in eight Australians saw a GP at least 12 times in 2012/13, accounting for 41% of the $16 billion Medicare paid out in out-of-hospital benefits. About one-third of this group saw five different GPs or more in that year, although some of these GPs might have been the same doctor practising in a different location.

- APN NEWSDESK



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