After hours primary health care

After hours primary health care is accessible and effective primary health care for people whose health condition cannot wait for treatment until regular primary health care services are next available. It should not be a substitute for primary health care that could otherwise occur 'in hours'.

Page last updated: 01 July 2015

Review of after hours primary health care

The review of after hours primary health care was undertaken as a result of a recommendation from the Review of Medicare Locals. The review commenced on 19 August 2014, with recommendations made to Government on 31 October 2014.

The review considered the most appropriate and effective delivery mechanisms to support ongoing after hours primary health care services nationally.

Media release: Review of after-hours service delivery
Review report: Review of after hours primary health careTop of page

New arrangements for after hours primary health care

New funding arrangements for after hours service provision were implemented on 1 July 2015 and consist of a new PIP After Hours Incentive funding to Primary Health Networks to support locally-tailored after hours services and new after hours GP advice and support line.

Frequently asked questions for the new arrangements for after hours primary health care.

PIP After Hours Incentive

The new PIP After Hours Incentive has five payment levels, and is available to eligible general practices registered for the PIP. The PIP After Hours Incentive provides payments to accredited general practices that ensure their patients have access to quality after hours care.

The PIP After Hours Incentive simplifies the funding process to encourage and support practices to provide after hours access. It builds on existing infrastructure and provides general practices with a nationally consistent, streamlined, less administratively burdensome way to receive funding for delivering after hours services.

The PIP After Hours Incentive is based on a practice's Standardised Whole Patient Equivalent (SWPE).

The five payment levels for the new PIP After Hours Incentive are:

Level 1 Participation Payment - $1 per SWPE

Practices must have formal arrangements in place to ensure that practice patients have access to care in the complete after hours period (hours outside of 8am to 6pm weeknights; hours outside of 8am to 12pm Saturdays; and all day Sundays and public holidays).

Level 2 Sociable After Hours Cooperative Coverage Payment - $4 per SWPE

Practices must:
  • participate in a cooperative arrangement with other general practices that provides after hours care to practice patients in the sociable after hours period (6pm to 11pm weeknights), and
  • ensure formal arrangements are in place to cover the unsociable after hours period (11pm to 8am weekdays, hours outside of 8am and 12pm Saturdays and all day Sundays and public holidays).

Level 3 Sociable After Hours Practice Coverage Payment - $5.50 per SWPE

Practices must:
  • provide after hours care to practice patients directly through the practice in the sociable after hours period (6pm to 11pm weeknights); and
  • ensure formal arrangements are in place to cover the unsociable after hours period (11pm to 8am weekdays, hours outside of 8am and 12pm Saturdays and all day Sundays and public holidays).

Level 4 Complete After Hours Cooperative Coverage Payment - $5.50 per SWPE

Practices must participate in a cooperative arrangement with other general practices that provides after hours care to practice patients for the complete after hours period (hours outside of 8am to 6pm weeknights; hours outside of 8am to 12pm Saturdays; and all day Sundays and public holidays).

Level 5 Complete After Hours Practice Coverage Payment - $11 per SWPE

To be eligible for the Level 5 Complete After Hours Practice Coverage Payment, practices must provide after hours care to practice patients in the complete after hours period (hours outside of 8am to 6pm weeknights; hours outside of 8am to 12pm Saturdays; and all day Sundays and public holidays).

Guidelines setting out the eligibility requirements for the new PIP after hours incentive are available at the Department of Human Services websiteTop of page

Funding to Primary Health Networks

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) receive Commonwealth funding to work with key local stakeholders to plan, coordinate and support after hours health services. PHNs provide an opportunity to improve access to after hours services that are tailored to the specific needs of different communities. They will focus on addressing gaps in after hours service provision, 'at risk' populations and improved service integration.

PHNs commenced operations on 1 July 2015.

Further information on Primary Health Networks.

After Hours GP Advice and Support Line

The after hours GP advice and support line will better support all Australians who do not have access to face to face GP services in the after hours period.

The new after hours GP advice and support line is operated by Healthdirect Australia and commenced on 1 July 2015.
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