Primary health care

In Australia, primary health care is usually a person’s first encounter with the health system when they have a health concern. Primary health care broadly encompasses health care not related to a hospital visit.

9 in 10

Australian females visited a general practitioner in the previous 12 months

Based on the ABS Patient Experiences Survey, in 2018–19, 88% of females aged 15 and over were estimated to have visited their general practitioner (GP) in the last 12 months (ABS 2019).

Barriers to accessing health services may impede the best possible health outcomes for women. In 2018–19, among females aged 15 and over (ABS 2019):

  • more than 1 in 5 (21%) waited longer than they felt acceptable to get an appointment with a GP
  • 1 in 25 (4.0%) delayed seeing, or did not see, a GP when needed because of cost reasons at least once in the past 12 months
  • almost 1 in 10 (8.1%) delayed getting, or did not get prescribed medication, because of cost.

Based on the 2016 Survey of Health Care, of Australian women aged 45 and over who had at least 1 GP visit in the 12 months between November 2014 and November 2015 (ABS 2017):

  • 1 in 4 (26%) had spoken to their GP about their emotional and psychological health
  • almost half (49%) indicated they received care from a health professional other than their GP or specialist doctor or nurse for their physical health (for example, physiotherapist, podiatrist, dietitian)
  • 1 in 9 (11%) indicated that they received care from a health professional other than their GP or specialist doctor or nurse for their emotional or psychological health (for example, psychologist, counsellor or social worker)
  • more than 8 in 10 (84%) were currently taking at least 1 medication on a regular and ongoing basis
  • almost 8 in 10 (79%) indicated they were always or usually involved in making decisions about their medications for their own health.