Confusion over the proposed $ 7 co-payment for visits to a doctor, which is not due to start until July 2015, has seen an average reduction of ten percent of patient visits to clinics, with up to 50 percent at one medical centre, according the Australian Medical Assocation.
AMA Federal president Doctor Steve Hambleton told 891 Breakfast some surgeries may have to reduce staff due to the sudden fall off in appointments.
“One of the clinics earlier on said about half of the patients didn’t turn up, some of them are saying about 10 percent.”
Fall offs could be attributed to either the concern over GP co-payment introduction or people generally deciding their ails did not warrant a visit to the doctor, Dr Hambleton said.
Several medical centres around the country have resorted to sending SMSs to listed patients to notify them that $ 0 bulk billing was still available.
Dr Hambleton said doctors were attempting to streamline services to better utilise services, but patients avoiding initial visits would compound problems later down the line.
“We have to keep people out of the expensive part of the system and that is the hospitals.”
The Federal Budget $ 7 GP co-payment proposal will not begin until July 2015, once it has been passed by the Lower House and the Senate.