ONE in four Hunter residents say they waited ‘‘longer than acceptable’’ to see a GP in the 12 months to 2010-11, making it the third-worst performing region in that category nationwide.
A report card on Australia’s primary health care also found one in 10 Hunter people said they did not see, or delayed seeing a GP, in the 12 months to 2010-11 due to cost.
And 40per cent said they waited longer than four hours for an urgent appointment
The findings, contained in the second report from the National Health Performance Authority, are based on interviews with more than 26,000 people living in 61 Medicare Local regions across Australia.
Chief executive officer of the authority Dr Diane Watson said the report showed where people lived made a big difference both to their perceived health status and experiences of care.
The results also illustrated that no one area does consistently well, or poorly, across all measures, she said.
In the Hunter, 84per cent of people said they had seen a GP in the previous 12 months, just below the average of 85per cent for comparable Medicare Local areas which included the Central Coast, Illawarra-Shoalhaven, and Nepean-Blue Mountains.
The cost of Hunter residents’ GP attendances averaged $230.25 in 2010-11, which rose to $247.54 in 2011-12, also in line with comparable regions.
Of those who visited a hospital emergency department within the past 12 months, 24per cent said their complaint could have been dealt with by a GP.
When they did see their GP, most people were happy with the experience – 90per cent said they were listened to carefully by their GP, 94per cent said their GP displayed respect for what they said, and 90per cent said their GP spent enough time with them.
Overall, 87per cent of Hunter residents reported a positive health status – just 13per cent said their health was fair, or poor, putting it in about the middle of the national range of 75 to 91per cent reporting a positive health status.