Unmet need for GP services due to a lack of transport

This section presents statistics on people who had a medical problem but did not visit a GP due to a lack of transport, over a 12-month period.

Transport is important for connecting people to healthcare services, as well as education, family, community, shops and recreation. Not being able to access healthcare when needed can lead to an unmet need, and a potential worsening of health.

About 123,000 New Zealanders missed out on a GP visit due to having no transport in 2019/20

In 2019/20, about 1.6% of children and 2.8% of adults had a medical problem but did not visit a GP due to a lack of transport (Figure 1). This is equal to about 15,000 children and 108,000 adults.

There has been no significant change in the percentage of people with unmet need for a GP due to a lack of transport between 2011/12 and 2019/20, either for children or adults, even when adjusted for age differences.

Figure 1: Unmet need for GP services due to lack of transport in the past 12 months, children and adults, 2011/12–2019/20 (unadjusted prevalence)

People with disabilities are far more likely to be unable to access GP services due to a lack of transport

In 2019/20, one in nine (11.0%, 8.5–14.2%) disabled adults had an unmet need for GP services due to a lack of transport in the last 12 months. This is equivalent to an estimated 35,000 people.

After adjusting for age and gender differences, disabled adults were 6.5 times more likely than non-disabled adults to experience unmet GP need due to a lack of transport. 

Women were more likely to have an unmet need for a GP due to lack of transport

In 2019/20, the prevalence of unmet GP need among women (3.6%, 95% CI: 3.1–4.3%) was almost double that of men (1.7%, 1.2–2.3%). After adjusting for age differences, women were twice as likely to experience unmet GP need due to lack of transport than men (with and adjusted rate ratio of 2.1)

Rates of unmet need for a GP varied with age

In 2019/20, the highest percentages of unmet need for a GP due to lack of transport among children were in those aged 0–4 years old (2.0%), while the greatest prevalence in adults was in those aged 15–24 years old (4.5%) (Figure 2). 

Figure 2: Unmet need for GP services due to lack of transport in the past 12 months, by age group, 2019/20 (unadjusted prevalence)

More than 6% of Māori and Pacific adults could not visit a GP due to lacking transport

Māori and Pacific peoples had much higher rates of unmet GP need due to a lack of transport than other ethnic groups. In 2019/20, this unmet need affected:

  • 6.6% of Māori adults and 3.0% of Māori children
  • 6.6% of Pacific adults and 5.8% of Pacific children
  • 1.8% of Asian adults and 0.5% of Asian children
  • 2.0% of European/Other adults and 0.8% of European/Other children.

Lack of transport is a significant barrier to healthcare for people living in high deprivation areas

In 2019/20, children and adults living in more socioeconomically deprived areas were much more likely to have had an unmet need for GP services due to a lack of transport in the past 12 months than those living in the least deprived areas. In particular, 4.5% of children and 5.9% of adults living in the most deprived areas (NZDep2013 quintile 5) had an unmet GP need due to a lack of transport in the past 12 months (Figure 3). 

Figure 3: Unmet need for GP service due to a lack of transport in the last 12 months, by socioeconomic deprivation (NZDep2018 quintiles), 2019/20 (unadjusted prevalence)

In 2019/20, adults in the most deprived areas were 4.1 times as likely as those in the least deprived to have unmet GP need due to a lack of transport.

Hawke's Bay and Northland DHBs had higher levels of unmet GP need in 2014–17

In 2014–17, rates of unmet GP need due to a lack of transport were significantly higher in the following district health boards (DHBs) (Figure 4):

  • Northland (6.9% of children, 5.1% of adults)
  • Hawke's Bay (5.2% of children, 5.6% of adults) 
  • Counties Manukau (4.3% of both adults and children).

Figure 4: Unmet need for GP services due to lack of transport in the last 12 months, by District Health Board (DHB), 2014–17 (unadjusted prevalence)

Information about the data

Unmet need for GP services due to a lack of transport

Source: New Zealand Health Survey (2011/12–2019/20), Ministry of Health

Definition: Children aged 0–14 years and adults aged 15+ years who had a medical problem but did not visit a GP due to a lack of transport, in the past 12 months. 

For more information, visit the Ministry of Health's webpage on the New Zealand Health Survey.

Data can be found from the Ministry of Health's webpage on the 2019/20 New Zealand Health Survey. The DHB data is available on the Ministry of Health's  Regional Results 2014-17: New Zealand Health Survey webpage.  

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