Summary

This web update provides local-level information on people’s experiences with the health care system. Good patient experiences are an important component of quality health care, along with clinical effectiveness and patient safety.

More than 20 self-reported measures are included, such as information on health status, how many times people visited GPs, if they saw a dentist or other health practitioner, whether their GP listened to them and if they delayed filling a prescription due to cost.

While most Australians rate their health positively, their experiences with the health care system can vary depending on where they live.

Results are presented for Primary Health Network (PHN) areas across Australia, providing local-level findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Patient Experience Survey 2018–19. Results are also included, where available, from the same surveys conducted in 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17 and 2017–18. Further information on the Patient Experience Survey and what is included can be found in the technical note. 

Most recently in 2018–19, the data reveal:

  • Nationally, 87% of Australian adults rated their health as excellent, very good or good; similar to previous years. Across PHN areas, this percentage ranged from 80% in South Eastern NSW to 93% in Northern Sydney (NSW).
  • Around half (51%) of adults reported having a long-term health condition. Across PHN areas, this percentage ranged from 43% in Western Sydney (NSW) to 62% in South Eastern NSW. The Northern Territory had the lowest percentage of adults who reported having a long-term health condition across the PHN areas (37%) but due to the Indigenous Community Strata not being included in the sample, these data should be interpreted with caution.
  • Almost 1 in 5 (19%) adults felt they waited longer than acceptable to get an appointment with a GP in 2018–19. Across PHN areas, this percentage ranged from 11.5% in Perth South (WA) to 31.3% in Nepean Blue Mountains.
  • More than 1 in 10 (12%) adults in 2018–19 needed to see a GP but didn’t in the previous 12 months. Across PHN areas, this percentage ranged from 8.6% in Perth South (WA)  to 22% in Western NSW.
  • Almost 1 in 4 (24%) adults referred to a medical specialist waited longer than they felt acceptable to get an appointment in the previous 12 months. Across PHN areas, this percentage ranged from 19% in Perth North (WA) to 32% in South Western Sydney.
  • Less than 1 in 20 (3.5%) of adults delayed or did not see a GP due to cost in the preceding 12 months. Across PHN areas, this percentage ranged from 2% in Central and Eastern Sydney (NSW) to 8.7% in Tasmania.
  • More than 1 in 20 (6.8%) adults of adults delayed or avoided filling a prescription due to cost in the preceding 12 months. Across PHN areas, this percentage ranged from 4.6% in Eastern Melbourne (Vic) to 9.6% in Tasmania.