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GP has six minutes to diagnose you, study shows

Mental health most common reason for visit.

If you need to see a GP because you feel down today, you are not the only one.

The RACGP’s Health of the Nation report shows that the most common ailments GPs deal with are psychological, mental health-related issues.

According to the study, 62 percent of cases are psychological and, on average, general practitioners have only six minutes per patient before they need to charge extra or pay for extra expenses themselves.

The Department of Health’s GP workforce statistics also show that there are 98.2 GPs for every 100,000 people in Victoria, which means that every general practitioner has approximately 1,082 patients.

More than half of general practitioners are most concerned about mental health issues in the future, and RACGP president-elect Dr Harry Nespolon says that he will push for a substantial investment in mental healthcare, including increased funding for longer consultations and planning.

“As access to psychologists and psychiatrists can be restrictive, to say the least, GPs must not only work as the frontline of support but as the entire support model, something which is currently not supported by patient Medicare rebates,” he told the Age.

The second most worrying ailment for GPs is obesity, with 45 percent listing that as their biggest concern for the future. Diabetes is in third place with 18 percent.

Such high numbers of patients per worker create a lot of stress for practitioners, and Dr Nespolon says this is a major concern.

“I have met many passionate general practitioners who have spoken to me about their need to frequently skip meal breaks and work late into the evening to provide care for their community,” Dr Nespolon said.

“If there is not a substantial and co-ordinated push to make sure that our current health epidemics are addressed, I am fearful of what the future may hold for Australia’s healthcare.”


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