After hours GP Helpline - 1800 022 222
As part of its National Health Reform, the Australian Government is committed to improving access to after hours care, particularly in those areas where people currently struggle to get the care they need, when they need it.
The helplineOn 1 July 2011 the Australian Government introduced the after hours GP helpline. People who require after hours medical advice, who cannot access their usual GP and are not sure what they should do, can now speak to a GP over the telephone, when necessary.
How do people use the helpline?When a person calls the helpline, their call is answered by a registered nurse who triages the caller. If the nurse determines that the patient would benefit from speaking to a GP, the patient will then be transfered to a helpline GP. The GP talks with the person, assesses their condition, makes a diagnosis and provides medical advice.
When callers are advised by either the telephone nurse or GP that they need to see a health professional immediately, they are referred to the most appropriate face-to-face after hours services in their local area.
If at any point during the caller’s conversation with either the nurse or the GP, the call is deemed to be an emergency, the caller is immediately transferred to ‘000’ with the nurse or GP staying on the line.
This service supports continuity of care for patients. With the caller’s permission, GPs who provide face-to-face after hours services, as well as the patient’s usual GP, are able to obtain a record of the consultation with the telephone GP.
Who should use the after hours GP helpline?It is intended for people whose health condition cannot wait for treatment until regular general practice services are next available, cannot see their usual GP out of hours, do not know where to access after hours care or are not sure what they should do.
The after hours GP helpline is not intended for people with life-threatening conditions. People with such conditions should dial ‘000’ and/or attend an emergency department without delay. The service is not intended for people with non-urgent conditions that can effectively be treated by the person’s usual GP during normal working hours.
When can people call the helpline?The helpline is accessible during the after hours period from 6pm to 8am Monday to Friday, 6pm Friday to 8am Saturday, from 12 noon Saturday to 8am Monday, and all day on public holidays.
Can I access the helpline from anywhere?The after hours GP helpline is available nationally by calling healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222. People living in Queensland and Victoria can also access the after hours GP helpline through 13HEALTH and NURSE-ON-CALL respectively.
For people living in Tasmania, access to after hours GP telephone advice is available through GP Assist by calling 1300 780 011.
Information MaterialsAfter hours GP helpline brochures
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After hours GP helpline - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) materials
After hours GP helpline - Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) materials
Improving access to after hours primary care - FAQ
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Information for Health Professionals
How does the helpline benefit GPs and hospitals?For GPs, this service provides another option for delivering quality care to their patients after hours, . This is expected to reduce pressure on GPs during the after hours period, improving their work-life balance. This service is particularly beneficial to GPs who practise in areas with limited after hours primary care services.
GPs have the opportunity to direct patients requiring medical advice during the after hours period to call the helpline in the first instance. By calling the service and receiving nurse triage and/or GP advice, many patients are able to manage their condition at home or at least until they can see their usual GP during normal business hours. Where self-management is not possible and a patient’s condition cannot wait until the next day for treatment, they are directed to the most appropriate after hours health services in their local area.
Does the after hours GP helpline replace face-to-face consultations?No. The after hours GP helpline does not replace face-to-face after hours care for those people who need it. It provides a new option for GPs to deliver quality care to patients. The service is an add-on to the existing 24-hour nurse triage service currently operating in your state/territory. If they choose to, patients can still access existing after hours services in the same way they did before the helpline became available.
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