After Hours Planning and Projects

Getting the right health care when and where it is needed is important. Therefore, Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN) is coordinating a comprehensive process for identifying and commissioning the delivery of sustainable and patient-focused after hours primary health care.

Work to date

In consultation with primary health care service professionals, WVPHN has developed a blueprint for moving forward to ensure available funding for after hours care meets community need.

In a series of workshops held between October 2019 and January 2020, current service providers informed us there were many achievable and practical opportunities to improve how after hours primary health care services could be delivered in our region. Those opportunities were categorised into three core after hours projects (see below) to address current challenges for after hours care.

It was determined the best way to move forward on these is via a staged tender process that will run from September 2020 to late 2021.

After hours projects

The process will take a three-pronged approach using specialist suppliers to build and deliver the projects.

In addition, an independent evaluation will be undertaken to identify the outcomes and results for health service providers, consumers and the broader after hours primary health care system.

For more details on the co-design projects, download the After Hours Sub-regional Co-design Outcomes Report (PDF 409KB)

Project 1 – Consumer and Carers’ Portal

WVPHN is investigating the feasibility of establishing a website to provide a central source of information specific to our region on how to find and access primary health care services outside of business hours.

The portal would respond to the three levels of need that were identified during previous consultations with the health sector. Those levels of need are: a self-help symptom checker, telephone-based support, and access to service. An individual user would move through each level until their needs are met and can take action. Each level will incorporate existing resources in the health care system.

To help us determine the usefulness of such a website, we are working with independent consultants from Impact Co. to investigate whether the website would be commercially viable. If the concept is deemed feasible, a tender process to set up and manage the portal will be undertaken.

Have your say

As part of that investigation, we invite users of health services, health workers and GPs to participate in our consultation program by attending one of a series of online focus groups to discuss the potential after hours website concept and explore the usefulness of a website to help people find and access after hours services more effectively.

Project 2 – Continuous Quality Improvement

This project focuses on continuous quality improvement activities to ensure after hours service models meet evidence-based best practice. It will involve collaboration across practices and organisations at local levels to share resources and knowledge.

Project 3 – Research and Development

Under this project, practices and organisations are testing and trialling projects or innovative ideas to improve the integration of after hours care. It included testing new models of care, investigating new business models, and building workforce capability and capacity.

The trial projects being delivered are detailed below.

Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) In Reach Pilot

Barwon Health is delivering this trial program in the Barwon South West region to improve access to timely medical care for residents in aged care facilities and to reduce the need for sending residents to hospital.

After Hours Palliative Care Pilot

The Grampians Region Palliative Care Consortium is aiming to improve access to palliative care services and information for service providers and patients during after hours periods.

After Hours Telehealth Pilot

WVPHN has appointed My Emergency Dr to provide communities across western Victoria with telehealth access to specialist emergency clinicians outside of regular GP clinic hours to reduce unnecessary presentations to urgent care and emergency departments. More details

Aged Care Nurse Practitioner Residential In Reach Collaborative Pilot

Portland District Health is enhancing access to nurse practitioners for residents in local aged care facilities to minimise need for transfer or admission to hospital.

Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative After Hours Clinic Pilot

The clinic aims to provide culturally safe and appropriate primary care services to the Wathaurong community during after hours periods.

Key milestones

  • January 2021 – Research and Development Models and Project Evaluation contracts commence
  • April 2021 – Tenders for Quality Improvement and Stage 1 of Consumer and Carers’ Portal advertised
  • July 2021 –Quality Improvement and Stage 1 of Consumer and Carers’ Portal contracts commence
  • November 2021 – Tender for Stage 2 of Consumer and Carers’ Portal advertised (if deemed feasible)
  • January 2022 – Stage 2 of Consumer and Carers’ Portal contract commences

Localised and short-term projects

Over the past few years, WVPHN has commissioned a series of after hours projects throughout our region to identify and support new and innovative ideas for delivering after hours primary health care.

WVPHN is drawing on the evaluations of these projects to help shape future planning and programs.

After Hours Telehealth for RACFs (2020/2021)

Funding has been provided to 12 residential aged care facilities (RACFs) across western Victoria to trial after hours health care via telehealth services. The trial will run until late 2021. Deakin University will then evaluate the project to determine if telehealth is a viable business model to support after hours primary health care service within RACFs.

After Hours Telehealth pilot (August 2019-September 2020)

Nine health service urgent care centres in western Victoria participated in the After Hours Telehealth Pilot to improve access to health services, with a focus rural and remote areas. Each centre uses My Emergency Dr to give health care teams direct access to specialist advise after hours.

The pilot involved the following health services: Maryborough District Health Service; Rural Northwest Health; Stawell Regional Hospital; Hepburn Health Service; Great Ocean Road Health – Lorne and Apollo Bay; Terang and Mortlake Health Service; Ballan District Health and Care; East Grampians Health Service.

Localised after hours projects (June 2019-December 2020)

WVPHN funded the development and implementation of a series of localised projects identified by existing emergency care networks. Each network examined its local after hours healthcare needs and developed ideas for improving the services.

Participating networks include: Great Ocean Road Health; Hepburn Health Service; Stawell Regional Health; West Wimmera Health Service.

Collaborative innovation grants (March-October 2019)

WVPHN provided grants of $20,000 to the four health services to implement innovative after hours projects: Great Ocean Road Health (Apollo Bay); Great Ocean Road Health (Lorne); Hepburn Health Service; Wimmera Health Care Group.  Read more on the evaluation of these projects.

More information

Contact our After Hours Program team

Last modified: 18 August, 2021