Has the number of urban pharmacies increased? What about rural pharmacies? And how many people deferred access to prescribed medication due to cost?
The annual Report on Government Services, published by the Federal Productivity Commission, provides information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of government services in Australia.
In its 2020 release, the Health section reveals statistics on general practice, pharmaceutical services, dentistry, allied health services and more.
Here are 10 key findings from this year’s report:
1. In 2018-19, the Australian Government spent $8.2 billion through the PBS and $263 million through the RPBS on prescription medicines filled at pharmacies – or $325.4 per person. Of this spend, 74.1% was concessional. The highest PBS expenditure for the decade was $9.2 billion in 2016-17, while the highest RPBS expenditure was $557 million in 2009-10 – more than twice as high as the past year.
2. In 2018-19, the government spent an additional $36.9 million in funding of PBS medicines to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health services in remote and very remote areas.
3. Around 202 million services (8 per person) were provided under the PBS in 2018-19 — with 91.8% being concessional. A further 8.5 million services were provided under the RPBS.
4. As at 30 June 2019, there were 4,136 people per approved PBS provider in urban areas and 2,996 people per approved PBS provider in rural areas. This number has increased in urban areas, but decreased in rural areas, over the 5 years of available data.
5. For 2018-19, the Australian Government spent $9.8 billion on general practice, or $391 per person, decreasing in real terms from $395 in 2017-18 following annual increases over the previous six years. Nationally in 2018, there were 36,858 GPs billing Medicare for around 161.3 million services.
6. Nationally in 2018-19, 3.4% of the population reported that they delayed or did not visit a GP in the previous 12 months due to cost, down from 4% in the prior year. Nearly a fifth (18.8%) of people who saw a GP in the previous 12 months felt they waited longer than felt acceptable to get an appointment. Meanwhile 6.7% of the population reported they had delayed filling or did not fill a prescription in the previous 12 months due to cost, down from 7% the prior year.
7. Nationally, there were over 2.9 million “potentially avoidable” GP-type presentations to public hospital emergency departments in 2018-19. This number has been creeping up steadily every year since 2014-15 when there were 2.78 million presentations.
8. As at 30 June 2019 there are 5,762 pharmacies across Australia. Of these, 4,879 pharmacies (85%) are in the PhARIA 1 (Highly Accessible/Urban) category. By contrast there are 91 pharmacies in the PhARIA 6 (Very Remote) category. There are 883 pharmacies altogether in the PhARIA 2–6 (Rural) categories.
9. As at 30 June 2019 there are 4,137 people per pharmacy in the PhARIA 1 (Highly Accessible/Urban) category. By contrast there are 3,389 people per pharmacy PhARIA 6 (Very Remote) category. There are 3,586 people per pharmacy in the PhARIA 2–6 (Rural) categories.
10. While the number of rural pharmacies has stayed about the same over the past decade (876 in 2010 compared to 883 in 2019) the number of people per pharmacy has dropped (from 4,277 in 2010 to 3,586 in 2019). Meanwhile the number of urban pharmacies has risen (from 4,212 in 2010 to 4,879 in 2019) and the number of people per urban pharmacy has also risen (from 3,814 in 2010 to 4,137 in 2019).
See the full report here