GP hotline won’t replace face-to-face

THE privately operated national after-hours GP phone line is an “interim” step for patients and not intended as a replacement for family doctors, the doctor at its helm has claimed.

GP Dr Ian Boyd, head of clinical quality at the Medibank-run hotline, gave the reassurance in an update on the three-month-old federally funded service at the RACGP’s GP11 conference.

“We very much don’t see ourselves replacing the family doctor,” Dr Boyd told delegates. “We’re not continuing ongoing relationships with these people.”

Rather, he said, the roughly 100 GPs staffing the lines were trained to provide “safe interim steps” out of hours before patients could get to their GP in person or to a hospital.

He added that “most of those [GPs] don’t want to give up the face-to-face contact” and remained working in traditional general practice while working from home on the