After hours medical help made easier

Getting sick or injured late at night when most GP clinics are closed for some people can mean going straight to the Emergency Department, but there are alternatives.

The Emergency Alternatives website - www.emergencyalternatives.org.au - empowers people to make informed decisions about medical services they need after hours.

Medicare defines the after hours period as outside 8 am to 6 pm weekdays, outside 8 am to 12 noon on Saturdays, and all day on Sundays and public holidays. 

Designed in consultation with GPs, hospital clinicians and consumers, the campaign website provides links and advice on accessing a range of after hours medical services. 

The website uses a colour-coded scale of emergency alternatives:

  • BLUE: Getting worried? Get free customised medical information online using Health Direct symptom-checker.
  • GREY: Need to talk now. Call 13 HEALTH to get health advice from a registered nurse 24/7.
  • AMBER: Need to see a doctor. Call your GP or an afterhours GP service to see a doctor 24/7.
  • RED: It’s an emergency. Serious illness? Accident? Suspected heart attack or stroke? Go to a hospital ED or call 000 for an ambulance.

Brisbane North PHN Acting CEO Libby Dunstan said market research showed the campaign had resonated with people on a cognitive level, with many heeding the message that the emergency department was not always the best option.

“We are pleased to report that over a third (35 per cent) of those surveyed claimed to have used one of the other after hours services as a result of seeing the campaign, up from 23 per cent in 2016,” Ms Dunstan said.

"This has shown that the campaign is helping to make a dent in after hours emergency department presentations and is helping increase people’s understanding of what services are available in the community," she said.

Campaign advertising will feature throughout July on local radio and selected websites, newspapers and social media platforms. View one of the campaign videos below.

The Federal Government provides funding to PHNs to ensure patients in their local communities can access after hours primary health services and maintain continuity of services.

To visit the campaign website, go to www.emergencyalternatives.org.au