Difficulties accessing health services

Service accessibility depends on many factors. Some people with disability experience difficulties in accessing health services, such as:

  • unacceptable or lengthy waiting times
  • cost
  • inaccessibility of buildings
  • discrimination by health professionals.

They may also experience issues caused by lack of communication between the health professionals treating them.

Based on self-reported data, among people with a disability aged under 65 living in the community:

1 in 5 (22%) who see a GP wait longer than they feel is acceptable to get the appointment

1 in 4 (24%) wait 1 or more days after making an appointment to see a GP for urgent medical care

1 in 5 (19%) delay or do not see a GP because of the cost

1 in 3 (30%) who see a medical specialist wait longer than they feel is acceptable to get the appointment

1 in 4 (27%) do not see a medical specialist when they need to because of the cost

1 in 8 (12%) have been placed on a waiting list for an appointment at a public dental clinic

nearly half (45%) of those on a public dental waiting list wait 1 month to more than 1 year before receiving dental care

2 in 3 (64%) delay seeing or do not see a dental professional because of the cost

1 in 4 (24%) delay going or do not go to hospital because of the cost

1 in 8 (13%) felt a GP could have provided care for their most recent visit to a hospital emergency department

1 in 6 (17%) who saw 3 or more health professionals for the same health condition report issues caused by lack of communication among different health professionals

1 in 6 (17%) who have experienced discrimination in the last year say it was by health staff (GP, nurse, hospital staff)(a)

2 in 5 (38%) who had difficulty accessing buildings or facilities in the last year had difficulty with medical facilities (GP, dentist, hospital)(b)

1 in 8 (13%) who need help with health-care activities have no source of assistance (formal or informal)(b)

1 in 6 (17%) who need help with health-care activities have their need for assistance only partly met or not met at all(b)

(a) Aged 15–64.

(b) Aged 5–64.

Source: ABS 2016a; see also tables S1, S4, S7, S10 and S11.

References

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2016a. Microdata: disability, ageing and carers, Australia, 2015. ABS cat. no. 4430.0.30.002. Canberra: ABS. AIHW analysis of Confidentialised Unit Record File.

ABS 2016b. Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2015-16. ABS cat. no. 4839.0. Canberra: ABS.