Improving access to After Hours Primary Care


Ends 30 June 2019

Funding Amount:




Melbourne Macedon Ranges Yarra Moonee Valley Darebin Maribyrnong Hobsons Bay Wyndham Brimbank Moorabool Melton Hume Merri-bek


North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) receives Commonwealth funding to work with key local stakeholders to plan, coordinate and support After Hours health services. After Hours Primary Health Care (AHPHC) is defined as accessible and effective care for people whose health condition is urgent and cannot wait for treatment until regular services are next available[1]. It should not be substituted for Primary Health Care that could otherwise occur “in hours”.

The After Hours period is defined as:

  • Before 8:00am and after 6:00pm weekdays.
  • Before 8:00am and after 12:00pm Saturdays.
  • All day Sundays and public holidays.

PHNs provide an opportunity to improve patient access to After Hours services that are tailored to the specific needs of different communities. This program focuses on addressing gaps in After Hours service provision to at risk populations, and improved service integration. There is a need to improve access to After Hours Primary Health Care to limit the extent to which people go without care or access emergency and acute services in the After Hours period.

NWMPHN has identified access to services is greater during the sociable After Hours (6pm-11pm weekdays) in comparison to unsociable hours with limited options available between 11pm-8am weekdays and on weekends.

The primary priority populations of need include, but are not limited to:

  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities (migrants, refugees and asylum seekers).
  • People experiencing homelessness.
  • Young Children (0-4years).
  • Young people (12-24 years).
  • Men between the ages of 18-35 years.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Priority locations of need were also identified and these include, but are not limited to:

  • Bacchus Marsh
  • Broadmeadows
  • Macedon
  • Melton
  • Merri-bek (north)
  • Werribee


NWMPHN considered funding applications that addressed any, or all, of the following:

  • Develop innovative solutions to close service gaps and improve access to After Hours Primary Health Care, ensuring consideration is ongoing for vulnerable populations and those who have not been well served by previous After Hours arrangements, such as rural and remote populations.
  • Address the lack of, or inequity of access to, After Hours Primary Health Care through targeted (and collaborative) programs.
  • Improve patient outcomes through working collaboratively with health professionals and services to integrate and facilitate a seamless patient experience.
  • Address fragmentation, increase efficiency and effectiveness and implement systems to support effective communication and continuity of care across After Hours service providers and a patient’s regular GP.
  • Work with key local After Hours stakeholders, including state and territory governments to plan, coordinate and support population based After Hours Primary Health Care.
  • Foster local level solutions and enable a greater focus of specific target groups, particularly where the Practice Incentive Program (PIP) may not reach.
  • Increase consumer awareness of After Hours Primary Health Care available in their community and improve patient health literacy on the appropriate health services to access in the After Hours period.