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Why bulk-billing services are shrinking across Australia



A new report has revealed the parlous state of bulk-billing across Australia, with more and more GPs unable to afford it.

Fewer than 50 per cent of clinics offer the service, with that rate falling to just one in three outside Sydney and Melbourne.

Even in Sydney, where the largest number of bulk-billing clinics are, one in 10 are forced to turn away new patients due to demand.

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GP Dr Brad McKay said the problem was widespread.

"Bulk-billing rates are really starting to plummet. It's very difficult to get a bulk-billing appointment," he told Weekend Today.

"People are waiting weeks to get a simple appointment with their GP, even if they're paying out of pocket for it."

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And those out of pocket payment are also on the rise.

In Sydney, people are paying an average of $42.12 for a 15-minute consult, $2 above the national average.

With the rate of inflation outstripping the medical rebate, clinics are passing costs on to patients – and some are simply unable to afford it.

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