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About Doctors & Medical Centres in Australia

What are the common types of doctors in Australia?

Doctors in Australia can work in a whole host of different specialisms. However, the most common types of doctors in Australia include:
  1. General practitioners (GP)

    GPs treat all kinds of common medical issues and have the power to refer their patients to other medical centres or hospitals to receive urgent or specialised care. They are trained to focus on the overall health of their patients, taking into account the physical, social and psychological aspects of health.

    GPs tend to be the first medical practitioner that patients see for a medical problem, meaning that they often play a role in easing people’s worries and preparing them for other kinds of treatments. GPs also look after people with chronic illnesses, helping to ensure that their treatment is working well and giving them the best quality of life. Broadly speaking, therefore, GPs offer holistic medical services that play a vital role in treating and preventing illnesses when they first present themselves.
  2. Paediatricians

    Paediatricians are specially trained to provide medical care to infants and children. They usually provide annual check-ups for young people to track their development and to catch any potential health issues early on in life. During these visits, the paediatrician will usually conduct physical exams and tests to measure a child’s growth, skills and behaviours, sometimes referring the young person to a specialist if they spot any problems that they are unable to treat themselves. Such visits also tend to include vaccinations to protect the child from common diseases and to protect wider society.

    Paediatricians are well-versed in the kinds of illnesses that tend to affect children, meaning that they can offer speedy diagnoses when a young person falls ill. As the go-to medical professional for concerned parents, a paediatrician often represents a trusted figure who oversees a child’s health and development until they reach adulthood. Part of this involves helping to assuage any parental worries and offering plenty of helpful information about meeting a child’s health, safety, and nutritional and fitness needs.
  3. Ear, nose and throat doctors

    Ear, nose and throat doctors (also known as ENTs or otolaryngologists) treat medical conditions affecting the head and neck. These include sinus problems, ear issues such as hearing loss, swallowing disorders, conditions affecting the tonsils, lesions or tumours in the throat and mouth, head and neck cancers, voice box disorders, and medical conditions affecting a person’s ability to smell and taste. ENTs play a fundamental role in improving the quality of life for many patients, helping them to communicate better with friends and family by improving their hearing and speech, as well as helping them to enjoy life’s small pleasures by improving their senses of smell and taste.
  4. Dermatologists

    Dermatologists deal with disorders of the skin, hair and nails. Such conditions are very common, affecting most people at least some point in their lives, and they can have a serious impact on a person’s sense of self-worth and mental health. Some of the most common problems that dermatologists treat include acne, eczema, psoriasis and severe rashes. Although many of these complaints may be classed as cosmetic in nature, dermatologists also treat a number of potentially life-limiting diseases such as skin cancer and inflammatory disorders. Treatments often carried out by dermatologists include cryosurgery for benign lesions, excision of cancers, UV light therapies, and diagnostic investigations carried out with a dermascope.
  5. Cardiologists

    Cardiology involves the treatment of disorders involving the heart and blood vessels. Cardiologists often treat patients who have experienced problems such as heart failure or a heart attack, helping to make decisions about further treatments such as heart surgery, stenting, angioplasty, or heart catheterisation. Other heart issues that may warrant a trip to a cardiologist include congenital heart disease, atherosclerosis, arrhythmias, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and ventricular tachycardia.
  6. Endocrinologists

    Endocrinologists deal with medical conditions related to the production of hormones. They are specialists who have been trained to diagnose, treat and manage conditions affecting hormones and glands including metabolic disorders, menopause, diabetes, certain cancers, diseases affecting the thyroid, osteoporosis, infertility, growth issues, and conditions affecting hormone production.
  7. Oncologists

    Oncologists are doctors who specialise in diagnosing and treating people with cancer. The job of an oncologist is to guide their patients through the cancer treatment process, creating a bespoke plan based on the type of cancer a person has, as well as how far it has progressed, how quickly it is likely to spread, and the body parts involved. Different oncologists specialise in different aspects of the field, so some patients see a number of different oncologists throughout the treatment process. These could include, for example, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, gynaecological oncologists, paediatric oncologists, and haematological oncologists.

What should I look for when choosing a doctor or medical centre?

Before settling on a doctor or medical centre, it is important to think about whether it suits your needs, lifestyle, and medical issues. As well as typing ‘Doctors near me’ into a search engine, you will need to investigate factors including:
  1. Facilities and location

    Being able to reach your medical centre easily is important if you have mobility issues, lead a busy lifestyle, or have kids. In this way, it is a good idea to seek out medical centres that are near to your home. Other than location, you also need to check whether the centre specialises in any medical area or boasts special facilities. If it has a specialist paediatric wing, for example, it may serve you well if you have young children.
  2. Ease of booking

    Finding a medical centre with simple booking options can be a smart move, particularly if you know you are going to need to book appointments regularly. Online booking systems, such as Hot Doc, tend to be the most straightforward, offering up-to-date information about available slots that can be booked at a time that suits you. If the centre does not offer online booking options, then you may wish to check how reliable they are when it comes to in-person and phone services. If the reception is under-staffed, for example, you may find yourself waiting on the phone for long periods of time simply to book an appointment.
  3. Billing and payment options

    Remember to double-check how services are costed and billed at your local medical centre. If you are eligible for Medicare, Australia’s public health insurance scheme, then you will usually be able to access healthcare services for free. This tends to be done through bulk billing, which requires the medical centre to bill Medicare and accept their payment. If your service is not bulk billed, you will need to pay the difference between the total fee of the service and your Medicare benefit. Usually, this will involve paying the total amount upfront and claiming back money from Medicare.

    There are some instances in which you will need to pay out of pocket costs for specialised treatments, even if you are an Australian citizen signed up to Medicare. In this way, it is important that your health centre offers clear and upfront information about any services or referrals that may end up costing you money. They should also be able to offer comprehensive information about the kind of private health insurance needed to cover specialist in-hospital treatments that you may require.

    It is also important to consider how the medical centre handles pharmaceutical costs. They may be able to offer information about the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which subsidises medicine costs.

    To ensure that you are getting the best treatment at an affordable price, you can compare payment methods offered by different medical centres on Localsearch.
  4. Opening hours and after-hour doctor services

    It is important that you are able to access medical services at times that suit you. If you work during the week, for example, it is a good idea to look for a medical centre that opens on Saturdays or late in the evening. Similar, if you or a member of your family have a condition that often requires speedy access to medical advice, you may wish to find an after hours GP or after hours doctor who can offer help at all times of the day.
  5. Doctor specialties or areas of interest

    If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should try to find a doctor who specialises in a relevant area of medicine. This will help to ensure you get the best levels of care.
  6. Waiting times and appointments lengths

    Sometimes, medical centres have so many registered patients that they always have very long waiting lists for appointments. The doctors may also be so rushed and overworked that they are compelled to keep appointment lengths very short. These types of centres are best avoided. Make sure to consider waiting times and appointment length when reading reviews and conducting your research.

FAQs about doctors and medical centres in Australia

  1. How long do doctor consultations last?

    Average GP consultations last around 15 minutes. However, most medical centres offer options to book longer consultations of around half an hour. Remember to double-check the details surrounding consultation length before signing up to a medical centre.
  2. Will my doctor charge a fee for a consultation?

    Yes, although this may be covered by bulk billing, in which you will not have to pay. It is worth noting that doctors are free to set their own fees, however, and you may have to pay out of pocket for certain services, so it is important to check full payment details with your healthcare provider before going ahead with any consultations or treatments.
  3. Where can I find a bulk-billing doctor?

    One of the easiest ways to find bulk billing doctors is to use Localsearch and compare payment methods of different medical centres. Alternatively, you may wish to contact a doctor and ask them directly.
  4. How do payment rebates work?

    Payment rebates cover the cost of certain medical treatments depending on whether you have access to Medicare and/or private health insurance. Remember to check with your medical provider and relevant insurance schemes to check whether you can claim money back after paying for a certain treatment or service. If your medical centre offers bulk billing, you will not have to pay upfront costs for certain services and will not need to go through the rebate system.
  5. Doctor specialties or areas of interest

    If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should try to find a doctor who specialises in a relevant area of medicine. This will help to ensure you get the best levels of care.
  6. Do doctors provide home-visit services?

    If you need a home doctor due to mobility problems, you may be able to find one in your local area. Simply check the details of nearby medical centres to see whether any of their staff members offer home visits.
  7. What is a Health Care Card?

    A Health Care Card is a government-issues card which evidences a person’s entitlement to healthcare concessions. This includes subsidised prescription drugs and medical services. Eligibility for the card is determined by a person’s income level and access to government welfare benefits and must be renewed every six months.
  8. Do I need a doctor’s referral to see a specialist?

    Usually, yes. Your GP will write a letter of referral to a specialist, detailing your relevant medical history and their reasons for referring you. You will need to retain this letter as evidence if you want to be eligible for Medicare or insurance rebates.
  9. Do I need to book an appointment to see a doctor?

    It is common practice to book an appointment before seeing a doctor for non-urgent issues. If urgent care is needed, you can usually book an appointment on the same day or you will need to head straight to your local emergency department for treatment.
  10. Can I book a doctor’s appointment online?

    Most doctors open today offer online booking systems for registered patients.
  11. How often should I have a medical check-up?

    If you are under the age of 45, you should go for a check-up every few years or when you detect any unusual symptoms. If you are over 45, you should try to see your doctor at least once a year for a check-up.
  12. Will my doctor offer telehealth or phone consultations?

    If you’re thinking ‘there is no decent medical centre near me’, you may be able to find remote services offered by medical centres far from your home. An increasing number of medical centres are offering online doctor services. If you would like to make your appointments quick and easy, it may be worth double-checking that your local medical centre offers telehealth or phone consultations before signing up.
  13. What does FRACGP stand for?

    FRACGP stands for the Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. It is a specialist qualification that is accredited by the Australian Medical Council and most doctors in the country have it.