Healthy Communities: Frequent GP attenders and their use of health services in 2012–13

More than one-third of Australians (35.3%) went to a GP six or more times in 2012–13, and those who went most often tended to be older and less wealthy, were more likely to have several long-term health conditions and were more likely to see several different GPs.

The findings, by the National Health Performance Authority, provide the most detailed picture yet available about Australia's most frequent users of GP services. The report, Healthy Communities: Frequent GP attenders and their use of health services in 2012–13, shows that 1 in 8 Australians (12.5%) saw a GP at least 12 times in 2012–13, accounting for 41% of the $16 billion Medicare paid in out-of-hospital benefits.

Among very high GP attenders (20+ visits), three-quarters (75%) were aged 45 or above, and 57% were aged 60 or above. In contrast, 45% of frequent GP attenders (12-19 visits) a18% of occasional attenders (4-5 visits) were aged 60 or above. Very high GP attenders were almost twice as likely as low attenders (1-3 visits) to have lived in areas of low socioeconomic status (29% compared to 16%)

Among very high attenders (20+ visits), more than one-third (36%) reported having three or more long-term health conditions, compared to 29% of frequent attenders (12-19 visits). The figure for all Australians was just 7%. Very high and frequent GP attenders (12+ visits) accounted for about 60% of the people who reported being admitted to hospital four or more times in that year. Just over 40% of very high attenders (20+ visits) and 30% of frequent attenders (12-19 visits) reported visiting an emergency department, compared to 10% of low attenders (1-3 visits).

Some local areas have markedly higher concentrations of very high and frequent users than other areas. Across higher-income inner-city areas, the Australian Capital Territory had the lowest population rate of people in these two groups (7.1%), compared to 14.5% in Inner West Sydney. Similarly, across lower-income regional areas, the range was from 8.3% (New England, NSW and South West WA) to 15.3% (Wide Bay, Qld).


Media Release

Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease-Australian facts: risk factors (AIHW)

Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease-Australian facts: risk factors is one of a series of 5 reports by the National Centre for Monitoring Vascular Diseases at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that describe the combined burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD).

This report on risk factors presents the latest statistics on the behaviours and characteristics that increase the likelihood of a person developing these chronic diseases. It also describes risk factors among people who already have CVD, diabetes or CKD. It examines age and sex characteristics and variations across population groups, including by geographical location and socioeconomic disadvantage.

Media release

Full report.

Admitted patient care 2013-14: Australian hospital statistics AIHW)

Admitted patient care 2013-14: Australian hospital statistics presents a detailed overview of admitted patient activity in Australia's public and private hospitals. In 2013-14, there were about 9.7 million separations from hospitals, including:

- 5.5 million same-day acute care separations
- 3.8 million overnight acute care separations
- about 460,000 subacute and non-acute care separations.

'While the majority of hospital admissions in Australia in 2013-14 were to public hospitals, the number of admissions to private hospitals is increasing at a faster rate,' said AIHW spokesperson Jenny Hargreaves. 'Between 2009-10 and 2013-14, the number of admissions increased by 3% on average each year for public hospitals and 3.6% for private hospitals.'

View the Media release and download the Full Report.

Watering the garden of family wellbeing

Family Wellbeing is an effective social and emotional well being program originally developed and delivered by and for Aboriginal people. The central objective of Family Wellbeing (FWB) is to develop people's skills and capacity to move from a position of disempowerment to empowerment. FWB aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a way to control and  change their lives.

Recommendations and outcomes from the national roundtable Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the Family Wellbeing program, Adelaide, March 2014 have recently been published as Watering the Garden of Family Wellbeing: Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to bloom and grow.

Learning from each other: working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people

Learning from each other: working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aims to support workers and agencies working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who use alcohol and other drugs. It is the fourth in a series of 'Good Practice Guides' developed by Dovetail in its role of providing professional support, resources and tools for youth and AOD workers in Queensland. Development of this guide acknowledges the particular knowledge, skills and approaches needed to successfully work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, their families and communities impacted by youth AOD use. The guide covers essential information for culturally secure practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, their families and their communities.

It builds on the information contained in the three previous 'Good Practice Guides' published by Dovetail: Guide 01 A framework for youth alcohol and other drug practice; Guide 02 Legal and ethical dimensions of practice; Guide 03 Practice strategies and interventions.

Resources page.

Mateship matters message shared in outback Queensland in bid to prevent bush suicide

An organisation working to promote men's mental health issues says mateship and solidarity will help men cope when they are under pressure.
Mates in Construction has organised a tour of Queensland called 'Mateship Matters', with guest speakers from the United States and Ireland.

The speakers have also visited Sydney, as well as Cairns and Townsville, but this week have headed bush into drought-stricken central western Queensland.

They spoke under the Tree of Knowledge at Barcaldine last night and will today visit the tiny rural communities of Jundah and Stonehenge, south of Longreach, before speaking in Longreach this evening.

Please see more at:

Mental health program launched at Hunter school

The principal at a Hunter Valley primary school says it is vital schools are pro-active in addressing mental health issues for the benefit of the both the school and the student.

A new national mental health initiative, the KidsMatter framework, has been launched today at St Joseph's Primary School at East Maitland.

The program provides tools and support to help schools work with parents, carers and health services to address problems, including anxiety and depression.The 4 primary constituents of the framework are:

* Creating a sense of community

* Social and emotional learning for children

* Working with parents and carers

* Helping children experiencing mental difficulties

See more at the following link:


An important campaign has been launched at Parliament House in Canberra which highlights the link between health and wellbeing and constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The RECOGNISE HEALTH initiative is a project of the Lowitja Institute in conjunction with RECOGNISE, the people's movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Constitution and to remove discrimination from it.

Many of the partner organisations in the RECOGNISE HEALTH initiative are at the forefront of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander­ led work to close the significant gulf between the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non­-Indigenous Australians. Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be another step towards equity.

The central premise of RECOGNISE HEALTH, that constitutional recognition is linked to health and wellbeing, is supported by the Lowitja Institute's 2011 research paper Legally Invisible — How Australian Laws Impede Stewardship and Governance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

Further detail

Forgotten health providers are key to healing patients and budgets

A new report has revealed that Australians with 3 common health conditions – stroke, diabetes and osteoarthritis – could avoid surgery or recover more quickly if they had access to multidisciplinary teams of health professionals.

The report,conducted for Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH) by Australian National University Masters student Virginia Decourcy, found that common surgeries including hip and knee replacements and diabetic limb amputations could be avoided if patients were seen by allied health providers including physiotherapists, dietitians and podiatrists.

It found that thousands of hospital beds could be freed up if patients recovering from surgery were given access to specialist allied health providers, who were shown in the report to reduce hospitalisation by as much as 30 days.

Media release.

Full Report

Dianne Gill is bringing her message to city's heart

A health professional on a mission to break through the stigma associated with mental illness so people will reach out for help has gone to "the backbone" of smaller rural communities with her message.
Dianne Gill spoke to about 60 members of the Country Women's Association (CWA) gathered at Dubbo yesterday, sharing with them the support to help people stay well or recover quickly.

Ms Gill, a 16-year veteran in the mental health field, reported that during that time the stigma had decreased but not disappeared.

See more at the following link:

Mental health: Poor and remote areas don't have equal access to services, Monash University study finds

The largest ever study into mental health services in Australia has found government programs are failing to give people in poor and remote areas equal access to help.

The Monash University study looked at Medicare data relating to 25 million mental health items billed between 2007 and 2011.

It found people who lived in disadvantaged parts of metropolitan areas, rural and remote areas accessed the least number of services despite needing them the most.

Please see more at the following link:

Palliative care issues explored on the Health Report

This week's episode of ABC Radio National's The Health Report looked at some very interesting aspects of palliative care and you can read the transcripts or listen to the audio from the links below. The topics presented were:

1. Most doctors do not choose aggressive treatment at the end of their life . An interview with VJ Periyakoil from Stanford University who authored an open access study published in PLoS last year showing that doctors continue to provide high-intensity care for terminally ill patients but personally forego such care for themselves at the end of life, most choosing do-not-resuscitate orders.

2. Early palliative care can cut hospital re-admissions for cancer patients. Richard Riedel, an Oncologist at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina discusses the development of a collaborative model with palliative care specialists to alleviate symptoms in people with advanced cancer. The result has been a reduction in the rates at which patients were sent to intensive care or re-admitted to hospital.

3. The AMEN tool to help health professionals talk to dying patients. The Reverend Rhonda Cooper has developed this tool to help health professionals respond to the spiritual needs of dying patients and their families, even if they are not religious themselves. The tool is called AMEN (Affirm, Meet, Educate, No matter what).

4. Advance care planning and end of life care. The Australian & New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) has recently released its Statement on Care and Decision Making at the End-of-Life for the Critically Ill as a response to the need for intensive care unit staff helping families make very difficult decisions. More information on this can be found at the Advance Care Planning Australia website.