Why the long waiting time to see a GP?

Firstly, we want to take this opportunity to apologise for the difficulty to see your GP and the long waiting time, but it is hoped that this post will explain the state of play in your General Practice, the reason for the waiting times and the eventual death of affordable bulk billing practices like ours.

The first reason for the extended wait times is due to a shortage of GPs serving the metropolitan area as a considerable number of experienced GPs retired or stayed away during the Covid-19 pandemic and this has not been sufficiently replaced by graduates and/or overseas trained doctors. Additionally, graduates are also incentivised to work in fully private or mixed billing practices.

In the meantime, the remaining bulk billing GPs are under considerable duress and pressure from an agenda by Medicare to limit the number of patients a GP can see. They have been targeting GPs on the guise of “over-servicing”. GPs that are in their sights are based on a bell curve basis regardless of the hours that a GP works. This means that a full time GP are compared to part-time GPs and those working only a few hours a week. Over the years, as full time GPs are investigated for over servicing, the bell curve is manipulated and those full time GPs are again investigated and warned to service even less patients.

If you recall, there was a failed move in 2014 by the Federal Government to push for a compulsory co-payment on GP visits. Due to public backlash they reverted to supporting bulk billing but it is important to note that this is all under false pretenses. Their hope is by targeting GPs directly or in the background, they will force the hands of bulk billing practices to start charging a out-of-pocket fee and therefore satisfying their ultimate agenda that was played out in 2014.

A recent report entitled “Australian Healthcare Index” conducted by Healthengine and Australian Patients Association highlighted that: “Cost does come in as a factor with 48% saying they would move to
another bulk bill GP if their current GP introduced an out of pocket
cost for a standard appointment. Only 16% said they’d stay with
their GP regardless of any new out of pocket costs.” However, this will be harder to find as the number of remaining bulk billing GPs / Practices dwindle.

This is the only industry where the Government ignores the “restrictive of trade” by effectively enforcing a limitation on the number of patients a GP can serve. GPs are therefore forced to ignore the needs or demand of the health needs of the community at a time when it is needed even more.

Hopefully this posts help you understand why there has been an increase in waiting time in your Bulk Billing General Practices and it will only get worse in the remaining bulk billing practices like ours. We can’t see the direction of this changing unless there is a push by the community to support bulk billing and made known to the higher powers of our political system.