Timely access to quality health care is important in preventing, treating and managing diseases. When patients are unable to obtain appropriate health care when they need it, they face barriers to accessing health care.
Many factors can impede or prevent a patient accessing health care. Some relate to the individual, such as:
- their understanding of the urgency of their need
- their attitude toward accessing health care
- their work commitments
- other life pressures.
Other factors relate to the health system. For example:
- a service might not be available where the patient lives
- the cost might be too high
- there might be a long waiting list.
These barriers can delay a patient receiving appropriate care, and lead to poorer health outcomes. The 2016 Survey of Health Care focused on Australians aged 45 and over who had seen a general practitioner (GP) between November 2014 and November 2015.
This report uses results from the survey to look at the associations between selected patient characteristics—such as age, sex and the language they speak at home—and patients’ self-reported experiences of selected barriers to accessing health care. It focuses on access to GPs and specialists.