Healthy communities: Australians’ experiences with primary health care in 2010-11

Public health Australia

The National Health Performance Authority began operations in 2012 as an independent body to provide locally relevant and nationally consistent information on the performance of hospitals and other health care organisations.

This report, the Authority’s second, allows for the first time the public, clinicians and health managers to see results for both use and experience of GP care at a local level.

For most measures, the results are broken down into the 61 geographic areas that are covered by the new network of Medicare Locals, which were set up in 2011 to improve responsiveness, co-ordination and integration of health services. Where possible, results are broken down by still smaller geographic areas.

The report’s findings, largely based on interviews with nearly 27,000 adults, show that where people live makes a big difference both to their perceived heath status and to perceived experiences of care.

However, the findings also show that when patients do get in to see a GP, their perceptions of care can be quite positive.

This report examines use, patient experiences and the perceived health of populations living in each Medicare Local area against a range of indicators, including:

  • GP attendances
  • Measures of patient experiences
  • Wait times for GP services
  • After-hours GP service utilisation.

All of these data are linked to Medicare Local areas on the basis of where the patient lives, rather than the location where a health service is delivered.

Most data in this report were collected before Medicare Locals were set up. The value of these findings is that they provide a baseline at a lower level of geographic detail. This will be important over time in allowing clinicians and health managers to see what impact they are having in improving health care in their respective areas.

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