NEARLY one in nine residents in the Loddon Mallee Murray Medicare Local (LMMML) catchment area did not see or delayed seeing a GP when they needed to because they could not afford it, according to new report released by the National Health Performance Authority.
Healthy Communities: Australians’ experience with primary health care in 2010-2011 shows 11 per cent of people could not afford to see a GP, compared to the national average of eight per cent.
The percentage put the region second highest in a group of regions with similar levels of remoteness and socioeconomic status, behind Murrumbidgee with 13 per cent.
The report also shows it costs more to access GPs in the LMMML catchment areas than in other comparable regions, with an average spend of $221.56 per person, compared to the average of $216.42.
LMMML chief executive officer Matt Jones said the report showed the LMMML had to look at ways to improve health services access for disadvantaged members of the community.
“We’ll be working with GPs and providers of healthcare to improve accessibility,” he said.
“One of those areas is cost and we will be looking at understanding how services can be provided to people who are disadvantaged.”
Mr Jones said the report was undertaken prior to the start of LMMML, so it would provide the basis for the organisation to build upon, including addressing the price of services.
“It provides a good baseline understanding of some of the issues for accessing and receiving healthcare,” he said.
“Expenditure certainly is a little bit above. The general health of the population is 82 per cent and while it’s high we’d like that to be as high as possible.
“There’s some exciting areas for us to work on.”
He said he expected the National Health Performance Authority to release Healthy Communities reports every