Australia unlucky country for access
A LACK of investment in the primary care workforce has contributed to Australia’s poor standing in an international study, which ranked the country joint last for timely and affordable healthcare.
The comparative study published by The Commonwealth Fund revealed that 62% of Australians surveyed found it difficult to access after-hours care. In addition, just 31% of practices reported their patients were able to secure same-day or next-day appointments.
These figures saw Australia ranked joint-last with the US in a comparison of seven developed nations. The Netherlands was ranked first for patient access.
But overall, when efficiency, safety and coordination of care were accounted for, Australia finished third in the rankings.
Alistair Vickery, professor of general practice at the University of Western Australia, said the results highlighted the severe shortage of GPs in Australia.
“[The study] highlights what we have already recognised as problems. Primary care is not being funded properly, particularly GPs,” he said.
Mark Harris, professor of general practice at the University of NSW, agreed. “It reinforces the fact that we still have work to do in terms of people getting care in a timely way,” he said.
However, he added it was important to allow for margins of error in the study and not get “carried away” with the rankings.