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Older, fatter Aussies increasing GP work

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Ageing, fat Australians are making more work for doctors.

Today GPs manage 158 problems for every 100 patients they see, compared to 145 problems ten years ago, two University of Sydney studies show.

Sydney GP Liz Marles said in any given consultation doctors are dealing with multiple complex problems and treating more chronic conditions that they did ten years ago.

“As the life expectancy of Australians continues to rise, people are living longer with disease,” said Marles, who is president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Australia’s largest professional general practice organisation.

Older patients now account for 32.5 per cent of the GPs clinical workload, compared to 26.5 per cent a decade ago.

“In particular, we have seen a doubling in the number of patients aged over 85 years,” she said.

GPs are also spending more time looking after conditions related to increased weight and an ageing population, she said.

The two reports – GP activity in Australia 2013 – 2014 and A decade of Australian general practice – are by the University’s Family Medicine Research Centre.

The reports use data from a program called Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH), which continuously collects details of about 100,000 GP consultations.

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