After-hours services boom fails to reduce emergency dept presentations

19 September, 2017

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) recently presented new evidence that the boom in urgent after-hours home visit services is doing little to reduce emergency department presentations.

The Australian Government is reviewing urgent after-hours home visit services with the aim of securing high quality services for patients and better use of Medicare rebates for taxpayers.

Speaking at the launch of the RACGP's benchmark report, General Practice: Health of the Nation 2017 at Parliament House in Canberra, RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Department of Human Services supports the compelling arguments in favour of the review.

"This new data shows that urgent after-hours GP Medicare rebate items have been trending up with no apparent impact on after-hours emergency department presentations," Dr Seidel said.

"The data suggests the number of in-hours and after-hours low acuity presentations, presentations at emergency departments that could be handled by a GP, has been increasing or decreasing at a similar rate for 10 years.

"After hours emergency department presentations have not been influenced by the boom in urgent after-hours home visit services.

"These long term trends knock on the head once and for all the claims that emergency departments will be flooded with patients if the higher-value Medicare rebates for these services are restricted."

Visit the RACGP's website for more information about General Practice: Health of the Nation 2017, and to read the After-hours home visiting services in primary healthcare position statement.