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How after hours GP helpline works in Australia

OSHCstudents – Outside of Australia’s major cities, access to health services in the after-hours period is difficult. The after hours GP helpline is a safety net health service which helps people in rural and remote areas obtain the services of a GP and provides an alternative to visiting a hospital emergency department.



How the service works

The after hours GP helpline is an extension of the healthdirect helpline (1800 022 222). Callers to the healthdirect helpline during the after-hours period are assessed by a registered nurse who determines if they would benefit from speaking with a GP. If so, an after hours GP can contact the caller by phone or video call.

In an emergency, the caller is transferred directly to triple zero (000). The after hours GP helpline uses the National Health Services Directory to direct callers to local services when they are available.

The service is available to eligible callers in all states and territories except Tasmania, where an alternative service exists.


Call back options from a GP

The healthdirect helpline nurse can offer a call back from a GP within 15 minutes or within one hour, depending on the severity and urgency of the caller’s health issue. This ensures callers with the greatest need speak to a GP quickly.

In 2019, the healthdirect Video Call service was integrated into the after hours GP helpline, to offer the benefits of a visual connection for both the caller and the GP.

After their consultation, callers can have a care advice summary sent to them via SMS or email and they are asked if they would like a summary sent to their regular GP and uploaded to their My Health Record.

The after hours GP helpline can be accessed by callers:

  • outside of major cities
  • weekdays from 6pm – 7:30am
  • Saturdays from midday all day Sundays and public holidays

within major cities at times when local after-hours GP services are not available

  • weekdays from 11pm – 7:30am
  • Saturdays from 6pm
  • all day Sundays and public holidays

OSHCstudents (Source: healthdirect)

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