Queenslanders are living longer and taking better care of their health but being admitted to hospitals at unsustainable levels, according to the latest official health report.
The chief health officer’s biennial report said 70,000 more people were being admitted to hospital every year, and 50,000 more were turning up to emergency.
Dr Jeanette Young said it was a rapid increase and unsustainable.
“The health budget has increased by 88 per cent over the last 10 years, mainly due to all these increased admissions,” Dr Young said.
Dr Young said while half of the increase could be explained by population growth and some could be chalked up to an ageing population, a lot of the patients should be seeing their GP instead.
“People are tending to come to the emergency department rather than seeing their GP so that causes problems,” she said.
“It’s really important that every single Queenslander finds a GP they can trust and they can work with.”
AMA Queensland’s Dr Richard Kidd agreed.
“Where people have a regular GP in the long run it saves them a lot of money, they live much healthier, and they’re a lot happier,” Dr Kidd said.
Cost a factor for patients: AMA chief
Dr Kidd said cost was a factor for some patients.
“It’s a very difficult problem, the Medicare rebate that was introduced in 1984 has never kept up with inflation,” he said.
“People are having to pay the gaps and that is an issue for some people.”
The report also shed light on other aspects of Queenslanders’ health:
- Over the past decade the average life expectancy has increased by two years.
- Indigenous people die on average 10 years younger than non-Indigenous, but that gap has narrowed in recent years.
- Smoking rates have reduced and 12 per cent of adults smoke daily, as do 8 per cent of teenagers.
- Indigenous Queenslanders’ smoking rates are more than double those of non-Indigenous people.
Queenslanders no longer fattest, thanks to Tassie
Meanwhile, Queensland is no longer the fattest state, now coming in second behind Tasmania.
Obesity rates in Queensland have plateaued, with 30 per cent of Queensland adults now classified as obese and 65 per cent overweight.
A total of 7 per cent of children were obese, according to the report, and 19 per cent were overweight.