Primary Health Networks such as Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN) have a central role in delivering after hours primary health care through new and innovative initiatives and activities.

Definition of after hours

After hours primary health care is defined as accessible and effective primary health care for people whose health condition cannot wait for treatment until regular primary health care services are next available. It is not a substitute for primary health care that could otherwise occur ‘in hours’.

The after hours period is defined as:

  • Outside 8am to 6pm on weekdays
  • Outside 8am to 12 noon on Saturdays
  • All day on Sundays and public holidays.

Changes to urgent after hours health care access

Since 2015, urgent care after hours in the Ballarat Goldfields and Wimmera Grampians sub regions has been supported through an integrated patient streaming and information service (PSS) and the After Hours Taxi Transport Assistance Scheme (ATAS).

From 1 July 2020, criteria for using the ATAS was updated so that only taxi fares for travel for 100 kilometres or less (one way) to or from an after hours health service will be funded, unless:

  • The nearest after hours health service is located more than 100 kilometres away or
  • It is medically justified (as directed by a GP) that a patient needs to attend an after hours health service to access advanced medical care or
  • An individual has arrived at the health service via ambulance and their place of residence is located more than 100 kilometres away from that health service.

An review and analysis of available data in 2020 found both the PSS and ATAS were no longer meeting their initial objectives or the objectives of the Western Victoria PHN After Hours Program. Consultation with stakeholders as part of the work developing future after hours programs also identified inequities in access to the PSS and ATAS across the WVPHN catchment. Therefore, they will not continue beyond the end of the existing contract on 30 June 2021.

General practices will still be able to divert phone services after hours to the GP After Hours Helpline to meet after hours accreditation requirements.

Download the Changes to the After Hours Taxi Assistance Transport Scheme Explained flyer (PDF 115KB)

More information

Contact WVPHN’s After Hours Program team

Last modified: 28 October, 2020