Why after-hours care is important
After-hours care is accessible primary health care outside of normal general practice opening hours and outside of hospital emergency departments.
After-hours care is important to ensure Australians have access to appropriate care when treatment can’t wait. This is particularly in cases where treatment may not require a visit to a hospital emergency department.
After-hours care should not be a substitute for primary care that could otherwise occur 'in hours'.
What we’re doing about after-hours care
We support after-hours primary care through a GP incentive program. This program supports general practices to provide their patients with appropriate access to after-hours care.
Some practices provide the after-hours care themselves, while others arrange for another medical service to offer it.
Primary Health Networks (PHNs) also fund or provide after-hours care services. Learn more in the after-hours evaluation report.
Healthdirect also offers an after-hours primary care linkages service. This links people who call the healthdirect helpline to after-hours GP services where needed.
We fund helplines for advice and support during and after hours. These include:
- healthdirect helpline (1800 022 222) – 24-hour service where you speak to a registered nurse for advice on managing your issue or seeking medical care
- healthdirect after-hours GP helpline – extension of the healthdirect helpline that connects you to an after-hours GP by phone or video call
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby hotline (1800 882 436) – 24-hour service where you speak to a maternal child health nurse about you or your baby.