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GPs highly efficient – Productivity Commission

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Medical patients across Australia are highly satisfied with their GPs, according to the latest Productivity Commission report, which also found general practice to be the most efficient component of the health system.

The Productivity Commission Report on Government Services 2018 has found Australia’s general practice sector to be both cost effective and highly efficient.

But the report also shows that Australian Government total expenditure on GP services per person only grew by 80 cents between 2015-16 and 2016-17 – from $370.60 to $371.40

AMA President Dr Michael Gannon said the report highlights the funding pressure that general practice continues to operate under, and the pressing need for the Government to deliver new real investment in general practice in this year’s Budget.

“A well-resourced general practice sector can help keep patients out of hospital and save the health system money,” Dr Gannon said.

“GPs are providing more services for patients as the population gets older and, despite this pressure, satisfaction with these services remains high.

“The next Budget is a genuine opportunity to recognise and reward quality general practice.”

Dr Gannon said the Productivity Commission confirmed that the quality and productivity of Australia’s GPs is up with the best in the world.

Its report, he said, offered compelling evidence that the Government must provide greater support for general practice.

The number of GP services in 2016-17 was 6.5 per annum per head of population, which is up from 5.9 services per head of population in 2011-12.

“This reflects growing demand for GP services in the community due to the impact of complex and chronic disease, as well as an increase in GP numbers,” Dr Gannon said.

“There were 105.9 full service equivalent GPs per 100,000 population in 2016-17, compared to 82.9 per 100,000 population in 2011-12.

“Around 75 per cent of patients could get a GP appointment within 24 hours in 2016-17, which is consistent with previous years.

“Significantly, cost does not appear to be a significant barrier for patients who need to see a GP, with only 4.1 per cent of patients saying that they deferred accessing GP services due to cost.”

The Productivity Commission found that patients were highly satisfied with their GPs on a number of measures, including:

  • 91.6 per cent said the GP always or often listened carefully to them;
  • 94.1 per cent said the GP always or often showed respect; and
  • 90.6 per cent said the GP always or often spent enough time with them.