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Doctors, Dentists and Other Health ServicesBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
Australia - Doctors, Dentists and Other Health Services
There are now very few doctor’s surgeries in Australia which only have one doctor. Most are group practices and there are few urban neighbourhoods that do not have a practice. Most are owned by the doctors that work there. Very often you will come across large medical centres in the cities and around one third of doctor’s practices take this form. These larger centres offer a wide range of services than the smaller practices so very often you are able to have an x-ray, blood tests, collect prescriptions and occasionally consult an alternative health practitioner without the need to go to another practice or to the local hospital. Some of these larger practices offer a 24 hour a day service too. Unfortunately the downside of the larger practices is that they can seem very impersonal. It is common in some areas of Australia for patients to make use of both types of practice, using the larger medical centres to pick up prescriptions or if they need an appointment in a hurry and using their preferred GP for ongoing problems and continuity of care.
You should also consider how the practice bills for its services. Some practices are happy to bulk bill so that the patient does not have to pay on the day or go to the trouble of claiming back monies from the Medicare system. Some still charge privately so that there is continual cash flow within the practice. Those that charge fees on the day usually charge more than can be claimed back from the Medicare system, but it is considered that this is acceptable as these practices are usually the ones that have doctors with more specialist skills and better facilities. Private healthcare insurance is a way in which you can claim back the difference between the cost and the Medicare refund.
You should be aware that there may be very little choice if you are living in a rural area and travelling to alternative practices is not always practical.
Similar criteria also apply to choosing a dentist. You are recommended to visit surgeries before choosing so that you can assess the quality of the dentist’s qualifications, the facilities at the surgery and the services that are available such as the number of dentists, dental education and connections with dental specialists. Most dental practices in Australia now have a website so you can often do all this from the comfort of your own home.
As you are not obliged to use one doctor or dentist all the time then it is simply a case of going along and making an appointment. All residents of the country have a choice of public or private healthcare so you are not restricted at all. Your first visit to a practice may involve a medical examination and questions about your general state of health so that they can keep accurate records.
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