Patients see less of their GPs

Patients see less of their GPs

19 Jul 2010

A La Trobe University-led study shows a dramatic recent decline in long consultations by GPs accompanied by an increase in the use of short consultations – despite efforts by government to encourage longer consultations to improve health care.

Doctor seeing patient Researchers found that the use of Level C and D (long) consultations increased consistently from 1994 to 2004, but then fell sharply between 2007 and 2009. This was accompanied by an increase in the use of Level A (short) consultations.

In an article published in today’s 'Medical Journal of Australia' (MJA) La Trobe University Research Fellow Dr Michael Taylor says this pattern is at odds with health policy objectives that rely on long consultations to provide preventive care and chronic disease management.

Dr Taylor, from La Trobe’s Australian Institute for Primary Care, says the result emerges from an analysis of more than 1.3 billion GP attendances over 16 years.

It suggests that recent Medicare reforms, including changes to Levels B, C and D consultation item descriptors, may not be sufficient to change consultation patterns.

The 'MJA' quotes Dr Taylor:  ‘The Federal Government intends the May 2010 Medical Benefits Scheme reforms to encourage preventive care through the use of long consultations.

'These reforms are likely to influence consultation patterns, but perhaps not sufficiently to overcome other factors -- and the classic friction between professional and bureaucratic interests will remain.’

Other members of the research team were La Trobe health services’ researcher Dr Dell Horey, Health Sciences’ Dean Professor Hal Swerissen, and Dr Charles Livingstone from Monash University.


CONTACT: Dr Michael Taylor, Mob: 0421 339 908; Email:




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