Health round-up: Home doctor visits, mental health and gestational diabetes

Richard Laycock 16 November 2017 NEWS

Doctor treating young patient

A weekly round-up of Australia's latest healthcare news.

Roughly 8% of Australians saw an after hours GP in the last year

The amount of Aussies receiving after-hours general practitioner care in their own home is on the rise, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Home care visits have more than doubled since 2013-14, up from 13% to 27% in 2016-17.

According to ABS director of health statistics Louise Gates, there are a couple of factors influencing the rise.

"This increase in home visits is due to a decrease in the proportion of people visiting late night clinics, which fell from 26% to 18%, and those visiting an after hours clinic at a hospital, which fell from 19% to 10%. The proportion visiting a regular GP clinic after hours remained stable at 43%," Gates said in a statement.

The data also found that those living in major cities (9%) were more likely than those in regional areas (6%) to seek out after-hours GP care.

Two-thirds of Australians with mental illness believe treatment could be improved

Half of the population have experienced a mental health issue, with two-thirds saying that their treatment could have been better, according to new research from myDNA.

Of those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, 21% believe that they are not on the correct medication.

Associate Professor and medical director at myDNA Les Sheffield believes our DNA may hold valuable insights into how our bodies metabolise medication, which could improve treatment options.

“There are now international guidelines about what to do with results and how they relate to the medication and dosage. International trials have also provided good evidence that DNA testing can predict the risk of side effects,” Professor Sheffield said in a statement.

"As some side effects have the potential to be serious, it’s a good reason for people to talk with their doctor or pharmacist for a pharmacogenomic test,” he said.

Increase in gestational diabetes

Alarmingly 38,000 Australian women experienced gestational diabetes in the last year, according to CEO of Diabetes Australia Professor Greg Johnson.

“In the last ten years, more than 200,000 women have developed gestational diabetes. Latest projections show that over the next decade more than 500,000 women could develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy,” said Professor Johnson said in a statement.

Without appropriate care, gestational diabetes can have a two-pronged effect.

First, there is the health risk during the pregnancy to both the mother and child.

Second, gestational diabetes increases the chances of both mother and child developing type 2 diabetes in later life.

“Our latest projections suggest that gestational diabetes could trigger over 250,000 women to develop type 2 diabetes or prediabetes in the coming decade,” Professor Johnson said.

What else is happening?

According to the latest research from a Roy Morgan Snap SMS Survey, the majority of Australians are in favour of "letting patients die when they are hopelessly ill and experiencing unrelievable suffering with no chance of recovery".

The number of Aussies in favour of euthanasia according to the research was 87% for, 10% against, with 3% undecided.

Each week our round-up offers a summary of the latest developments impacting Australian healthcare and most importantly, you, the consumer. Check in every Thursday to find out what's happening in health.

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