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Home doctor visits increasing

The amount of after hours general practitioner (GP) care received through a home visit has been increasing steadily since 2013-14.

In new results released today from the 2016-17 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Patient Experience Survey, home visits made up over a quarter of all after hours GP visits.

ABS Director of Health Statistics Louise Gates said: “While the overall rate of seeing an after hours GP has remained stable at around one in 12 people (8 per cent) since 2013-14, the proportion of these people who had a home visit has more than doubled from 13 per cent in 2013-14 to 27 per cent in 2016-17.”

“This increase in home visits is due to a decrease in the proportion of people visiting late night clinics, which fell from 26 per cent to 18 per cent, and those visiting an after hours clinic at a hospital, which fell from 19 per cent to 10 per cent. The proportion visiting a regular GP clinic after hours remained stable at 43 per cent.”

In addition, the number of people who needed to see an after hours GP but did not see one at all decreased from 25 per cent in 2013-14 to 19 per cent in 2016-17.”

People living in major cities were more likely to see an after hours GP than those living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas of Australia (9 per cent compared with 6 per cent). At the same time, those living in outer regional, remote or very remote regions were almost twice as likely to report that the main reason they went to an emergency department instead of a GP was because a GP was not available when required (29 per cent compared with 17 per cent of those living in major cities).

Further information can be found in Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2016-17 (cat. no. 4839.0), available for free download from the ABS website, http://www.abs.gov.au.