Soaring GP costs clogging emergency rooms, experts say

Nine News Sydney, 6th October 2023

Emergency rooms are being overwhelmed by patients with minor illnesses as GP prices soar, clogging up the already stressed healthcare system.

Experts say Australia's public healthcare system is failing, with patients no longer able to afford treatment outside of the hospital.

"People who do not have $70 or $80 to see a GP, they have got no other choice," Health Services Union Secretary Gerard Hayes said.

"Emergency departments are not designed to handle minor to medium matters, they're designed to handle emergency matters, it's not fit for purpose."

The Private system is also struggling, with nearly 500,000 Australians waiting for planned surgical procedures, according to the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

The AMA also found that each patient spends $6200 on average for post-surgery rehabilitation costs.
Hospital beds would free up if private health insurers provided better coverage for out-of-hospital treatments, experts say.

"In many other countries, they're advanced and well-developed systems in place to provide safe and effective care in out-of-hospital settings but in Australia, we're lagging a long way behind," AMA President Steve Robson said.

Patients would save $62.7 million, and 94,000 beds would free up per year if out-of-hospital rehabilitation was offered for knee replacement surgeries alone, the AMA claims.