Sharp drop in GP visits after co-payment announcement

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says patients are unclear about the timing of the co-payment, due to be introduced in July next year, and who would be charged.

"Certainly from western Sydney there's practices that are saying that attendances have dropped and now we're getting reports from other parts of the country as well," AMA president Steve Hambleton said.

"Some practices have said that they've had in the first few days about a 50% reduction in presentations, so that $7 co-payment looks like it is going to change behaviour to some degree.

"I think the most important thing is we don't want to put a barrier in front of people for primary healthcare.

"We do know if we stay on the same trajectory... we will find ourselves in an unaffordable situation."

Medical centres in the Primary Health Care network, a major provider of bulk-billing GP services, have been sending texts to patients’ mobile phones to assure them