A decade of Australian GP activity


A recent report from the BEACH study had some fascinating insight in how GP work has changed over the last decade (2003/4 – 2013/4) in Australia. it represents data from more than a million GP visits and nearly ten thousand GPs

It is a lengthy report but I have highlighted some interesting information from it:

  • The population increased by 15% and the over 65 age group increased by 27%
  • The average GP attendance per head of population increased from 4.8 to 5.8 per year
  • Female GPs increased from 32% to 43% of the workforce
  • GPs are ageing – the percentage older than 55 years of age increased from 33.6% to 47.5% with the mean age now 53 years
  • 63.7% of GPs have been working in this field for over 20 years
  • Average direct patient care hours per week decreased from 40 to 37 hours (a reflection of the increased numbers of part-time doctors)
  • The number of GPs working more than 40 hours a week reduced from 42% to 31%
  • The number of GPs with a FRACGP increased from 42% to 56%
  • Doctors in solo practices are less (12% to 9%) as are those in smaller practices (36% to 23%)
  • The mean length of consultations increased from 14.1 min to 14.8 min
  • The proportion of patients older than 65 years that were seen increased from 26.5% to 32.5%. In real numbers this means 17.5 million more encounters in 2013/14 than ten years prior.
  • Presentations are becoming more complex – the number of reasons for the visit increased from 149.6 per 100 visits to 155.3 per 100 visits
  • The actual issues dealt with also increased from 146 per 100 visits to 158 per 100 visits
  • The management rate of chronic conditions increased from 52 per 100 visits to 56 per 100
  • Visits related to psychological issues increased by 20%
  • Medication prescription  reduced significantly overall when compared to presenting problems but not when compared to visits – reflecting the increased complexity of visits
  • We are prescribing more psychoanaleptics, statins, PPIs, oral steroids and Oxycontin
  • We prescribe less antibiotics, NSAIDs and paracetamol/codeine drugs
  • There is a drop in clinical treatments such as counseling and advice about nutrition and exercise as these functions are increasingly delegated to allied health professionals
  • The numbers of procedures performed by GPs increased from 14.3 per 100 visits to 17.7 per 100 visits (this one surprised me)
  • Practice Nurse involvement in visits increased from 4.2% to 8%
  • We are becoming referrologists – the number of referrals per 100 visits increased from 11.5 to 15.7
  • We are ordering more tests – pathology (12% – 14%) and imaging (5% – 6%)
  • Our patients are fatter – obese adults (57% -63%)
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One Response to A decade of Australian GP activity

  1. Thank you for this summary!

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