Thousands picking up the phone for after-hours medical advice

THE new after-hours GP helpline has been hailed an initial success by doctors who fielded thousands of calls in the service’s first two weeks of operation.

Nearly 5000 callers who contacted the helpline in the first 12 days were referred on to GPs by the nurses who originally took their calls. 

According to Dr Ian Boyd, head of clinical quality for the Medibank Health Solutions-operated helpline, this represented close to 20% of the total volume of calls to the helpline.

The helpline is designed to complement after-hours services provided by existing general practices, and will be funded by Medicare Locals, who will be handed $126 million to coordinate and fund local after-hours services.

More than 100 GPs have undertaken the training and preparation required to staff the helpline, which operates with anything between six to more than 20 doctors, depending on predicted call volumes.

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