Media Release dt 07/08/2023

Patients avoid GPs due to cost-of-living pressures

Patients are delaying or avoiding GP appointments in Victoria with 2 million fewer standard consultations taking place this year compared to prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Clarke, CEO of the Australian Patients Association, said “the Australian Healthcare Index, released in June 2023, reporting on a survey of more than 10,000 people, found that 42% of survey respondents go less often to the GP due to out-of-pocket costs.”

“In the 18 to 24-year-old cohort, that jumps up further to one in two, so this is a particularly important issue for young adults who might be less financially secure” he said.

Mr Clarke said “35% of all respondents report that they have been skipping medical diagnostic tests due to cost, creating potential barriers to timely diagnosis. By delaying or avoiding GP visits or diagnostic tests, patients risk missing out on early detection of a life threatening or life changing disease or illness. This all has a knock-on effect on other parts of the healthcare system. For example, we have people presenting at already crowded Emergency departments in order to avoid costs, with health issues which GPs could handle,” he said.

“We encourage all patients not to neglect their own health and wellbeing, but we equally understand the financial stresses being created when an increasing number of GP’s no longer bulk-bill.”

Mr Clarke said “Universal access to good quality healthcare is a cornerstone of a good healthy society, and universal access to GP’s is a cornerstone of a properly functioning healthcare system.  Before we even begin to ask questions about quality, we must at least address the issue of equal access. What these new figures tell us, is that our system no longer provides universal equal access.”

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The APA is the voice of and for Australian patients. We provide support, and information to patients, and advocate on their behalf to make positive change in the healthcare system. Hearing the patients voice and their lived experience is what drives our agenda, including campaigns and lobbying activity.

For further information contact: David Clarke, CEO APA on 0416 156 923