$98.8m scheme to give after hour access to local GPs

AUSTRALIANS will receive access to a local doctor after-hours under a new $98.8m initiative aimed at encouraging GPs to treat patients outside of business hours.

But the initiative has come at the expense of the After Hours GP helpline which will be scrapped from July 1.

Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley said GPs that provide after-hours services to patients will be able to apply for incentives from the government to do so.

She said the new After Hours Incentive will have five payment levels and will be available to eligible GPs who sign up to the scheme.

"Under these new arrangements, patients will be able to easily find out what after-hours services are available, including services provided by arrangement outside of the patient's usual general practice," she said.

"After-hours services will be simpler to find as all practices will be required to effectively communicate their after-hours access arrangements to patients."

Shadow Health Minister Catherine King said the government had again shown its complete lack of understanding for the needs of Australian families in abolishing the GP After Hours Helpline.

"More than 200,000 calls were made to the helpline last year, and well over half a million since its inception in 2011, proving just how valuable this service is to families," she said.

"The GP After Hours Helpline has enabled families in the middle of the night to simply pick up the phone and talk to a nurse or GP to get advice and if needed, be referred to their nearest open after-hours service." - APN NEWSDESK.



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