Illawarra survey shows health concerns

Lack of access to medical specialists has emerged as one of the region's most pressing health concerns in a survey completed by almost 1500 residents.

The high cost of dental services was also highlighted by community members who responded to the Illawarra Shoalhaven Medicare Local (ISML) population health survey which was launched in October.

ISML population health and workforce co-ordinator Abhijeet Ghosh said the findings from the survey would help the organisation provide the most "timely, appropriate and effective" healthcare services.

"We are trying to understand the needs of the community - as perceived by the community - to see what they feel are the gaps in health services, which we can then work towards filling," Mr Ghosh said.

"The survey showed that people were happy with the quality of GP services in the region. However, access to specialists - in terms of waiting times, cost and transport issues - came up as a major issue of concern.

"Paediatric specialists, physiotherapy and chiropractic services were among those identified as hard to access, while cost was also a major barrier for many to dental services."

Two surveys were conducted - one for the general community and one for the region's healthcare providers - while forums were also held across the region.

Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama councils supported the initiative with residents able to complete the online survey at council libraries. Survey participants went into a draw for six separate $500 gift vouchers, which were awarded at Wollongong library yesterday.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said: "It's extremely important we know what our community's health needs and expectations are ... and the findings of these surveys and forums will help ISML to deliver the best medical and associated services for our community."

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