The transition of Medicare Locals (MLs) to Primary Health Networks (PHNs) provides a timely opportunity to re-evaluate and re-orientate after-hours primary care services. All PHNs have been tasked with evaluating their current after-hours service provision and determining the best approach for delivering after-hours primary care to consumers in their region.
This Issues Brief, Review of after-hours service models: Learnings for regional, rural and remote communities developed by the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network in partnership with Healthy Futures Pty Ltd, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, evaluates the current delivery models of after-hours primary health care nationally and internationally. In particular, it describes the varied approaches to service delivery. This variation is attributable to a range of factors including funding sources, workforce availability, consumer awareness, distance and remoteness, population structure and local economies.
A literature review and a study of current and alternate models of service delivery identified a wide range of service models across Australia, including GP-centred models which utilise practice-based after-hours GP visits, Medical Deputising Services, co-located GP clinics in hospitals, nurse-led telephone triage models, and internet-supported triage models. Each of these approaches has its benefits and limitations.