(161129) — SYDNEY, Nov. 29, 2016 (Xinhua) — An injured passenger receives treatment at St. George Hospital in Sydney, Australia, Nov. 29, 2016. Seven people have been transferred to an Australian hospital after a China Eastern Airlines flight struck turbulence en-route to Sydney. (Xinhua/Zhu Hongye) (cl)

Canberra, Feb 2 (IANS) A growing number of Australians are delaying vital healthcare because of soaring costs, a government report published on Thursday revealed.

The Productivity Commission published its annual report on the health system, revealing soaring hospital waiting lists and major delays for ambulances, dental care, and doctor appointments, reports Xinhua news agency.

It found 3.5 per cent of Australians postponed or skipped visits to their general practitioner (GP) in 2021-22 because of the cost — up from 2.4 per cent the previous year.

Almost a quarter of the population delayed seeing a mental health professional because they could not afford it.

More than 23 per cent of people who visited their GP waited longer than they thought appropriate for an appointment.

The report was released ahead of a key meeting on Friday between Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and state and territory leaders where they will discuss health system reforms.

The state premiers and health ministers have joined forces to lobby the federal government to overhaul Medicare, Australia’s universal healthcare system, and increase hospital funding.

Mark Butler, the Minister for Health, has previously conceded the health system is in the worst state of Medicare’s 40-year history.

It has never been harder to see a doctor than it is right now, he said.

“It’s also never been more expensive. We’ve been working very cooperatively with doctors groups, patient groups, nurses groups, allied health groups, and many others to develop the Strengthening Medicare Task Force report and the Prime Minister has committed to presenting that at National Cabinet later this week,” Butler added.