Doctor doctor, why can’t we see you?
QUEENSLANDERS are waiting days and even weeks to see a GP, with only three in 10 surgeries able to give appointments in under 24 hours, a News Queensland investigation has found.
One hundred Queensland doctors' surgeries were contacted in order to gauge waiting times.
Seventy had a 24-hour or more wait, while 30 could make room on the same day.
Surgeries in regional Queensland had longer waiting times than in the city.
Health Minister Steven Miles said the results confirmed GPs had become less accessible and affordable in Queensland, particularly in regional areas.
"That means people who should be seeing their GP are either going straight to the emergency department or leaving their health concerns too long and then needing urgent treatment for conditions that could have been prevented," he said.
Queensland Health has previously reported that of the 155,000 emergency department presentations across Queensland public hospitals every month, 32 per cent are ailments a GP could treat.
People have shown up at their local ED complaining of nightmares, acne, hiccups, ingrown nails, blisters, warts and sunburn.
"This puts increased pressure on our public emergency departments, increasing the workload for emergency department doctors and nurses who work tirelessly to make sure critically ill people are seen on time," Mr Miles said.
The Health Minister also took aim at the Federal Government's decision to cap bulk-billing and reduce funding for primary health care.
"It has put so much pressure on GPs we're seeing them close or stop offering bulk-billing," he said.
"For example, in Mackay there is no general bulk-billing doctors at all and in Gladstone the only fully bulk-billed service is only available outside normal opening hours because it's the House Call Doctor."
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dilip Dhupelia said he thought the figures were "quite good".
"Most GPs would prioritise their consultations based on urgency," he said.
"So if it was determined the issue was clinically urgent the GP would see them sooner, most practices will have a couple of spots available for urgent cases."
Dr Dhupelia said he wanted to see Queenslanders going back to how our parents or grandparents used doctors.
"Everyone should have a family doctor," he said.
"The message I want to give is plan ahead for your appointments and go back to the olden days where you see your doctor regularly.
"That will give you better continuity of care and when you do have an urgent problem speak to the practice because most will have emergency spots."
Even fit and healthy people should see their GP at least twice a year, Dr Dhupelia said.