Latest Healthy Communities Report: People in Northern Sydney are accessing health services, but pockets of disadvantage still need to be addressed

Latest Healthy Communities Report: People in Northern Sydney are accessing health services, but pockets of disadvantage still need to be addressed

21 June 2013

News Release

The latest national Healthy Communities report shows that people in the Northern Sydney area experience relatively low cost barriers to accessing local health services, however, according to Northern Sydney Medicare Local CEO, Ramon del Carmen, there are still pockets of disadvantage within our community that require priority attention to ensure positive health outcomes.

The Healthy Communities: Australians experiences with access to health care in 2011-12 report, released today by the National Health Performance Authority, explores Australians experiences with access to and use of GP services, dental services, medical specialists, Emergency Departments and hospitals.

For the Northern Sydney area (incorporating the local council areas of Hornsby, Ryde, Ku-ring-gai and Hunters Hill), the Healthy Communities report showed:
  • 42% of adults reported having a long-term health condition. Despite this, 88% of adults rated their health positively and reported good, very good or excellent health.
  • The average number of visits to a GP was just around 5 times during the research period of 2011-12. Access to general practice services is relatively high in most areas across Australia with the range of access being 74% to 86% of Australian adults seeing a GP.
  • Emergency department visits by adults was 11%.
  • 27% of adults referred to a medical specialist felt they waited longer than acceptable for their specialist appointment.
  • 7% of adults delayed or avoided filling a prescription because of cost.

While the latest report charts experiences before Medicare Locals were established, Mr del Carmen said the findings add to the bigger picture Northern Sydney Medicare Local (NSML) has been building locally of community members experiences in accessing local healthcare services.

"This new Healthy Communities report provides NSML with important baseline information to work from and improve health outcomes for people in the Northern Sydney districts, said Mr del Carmen.

NSML currently has a large Population Health research study underway with the University of Sydney, which has involved talking to the local community and service providers including local general practitioners, allied health and hospitals about their experiences and needs. Using this local knowledge will help us to identify priority health needs and address service gaps, said Mr del Carmen.

Preliminary indicators from NSMLs research in progress show that while people within the Northern Sydney districts are relatively advantaged and generally have good access to healthcare services, there are pockets of disadvantage which require more attention in order to improve community health outcomes.

Another clear indicator of where our health system should be focusing is around the needs of those with long term and chronic health conditions, given that 42% of people in Northern Sydney identified having a long term health condition, said Mr del Carmen.

Our goal is to keep people well and out of hospital, so it will be important for NSML to continue building effective partnerships with healthcare providers across our region, to identify and address any gap needs, ensuring the people who most need access to health services are receiving the care they need, concluded Mr del Carmen.

The Healthy Communities report is available online on the National Health Performance Authority website:

About Northern Sydney Medicare Local
Northern Sydney Medicare Local (NSML) is a local not-for-profit health organisation working to make it easier for people in Hornsby, Ryde, Ku-ring-gai and Hunters Hill to access the health services they need. For more information on Northern Sydney Medicare Local, visit

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