Illness and injury can happen at any time. If someone in your household gets sick in the middle of the night or if you incur a non-life-threatening injury in the early hours of the morning, who do you call? Fortunately for Australians, there are plenty of convenient options when it comes to after-hours healthcare. Below are some of the avenues for getting medical attention outside of regular clinic hours:
- After-hours doctor – Arranging for an at-home doctor’s visit is a convenient option for patients who find it difficult to leave their home. Most general practitioners offer this service. Before you need home visits, ask your regular general practitioner if they are available after hours, and keep their contact details for when you need it. An after-hours GP often deals with falls and physical injuries, asthma and acute respiratory illness, skin infections and rashes, and acute gastric illness.
- After-hours clinic – Some clinics also keep their doors open outside of regular hours. These clinics provide care for non-emergency medical conditions. Before heading to the clinic, call to make an appointment. At the same time, you can also ask them how long you need to wait to be seen by a doctor and how much you need to pay for the visit.
- Helpline – You can also ask a medical professional over the phone. The Nurse-On-Call hotline is available throughout the country 24/7. By dialling 1300 60 60 24, you can get medical advice from a registered nurse as well as find out where the closest after-hours clinic is.
- Pharmacists – Visiting your local pharmacist is also a convenient way of getting advice on how to relieve pain and deal with minor injuries and illnesses. Moreover, they can also offer guidance on how to use medical supplies such as bandages. Ask your local pharmacy if they stay open after regular business hours to find out if you can rely on them for after-hours care and health advice.
Who Can Best Benefit from After-Hours Healthcare?
Many people benefit from the attention of medical professionals outside of business hours. There is a need for after-hours GP if someone in your household became suddenly ill or in pain. People who have limited mobility or are suffering from chronic pain can arrange to see a doctor in their own home instead of spending a lot of time waiting in line at the clinic during regular hours. It’s safer for patients with compromised immunity, like infants who have not yet received their shots or patients who are undergoing treatment, to see a doctor when there are no other patients around. Scheduling an after-hours check-up is also quite convenient for people who do not have the option of taking time off work.
After-Hours Healthcare and Emergencies
It’s important to take note that after-hours care and emergency care are different things and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. If, for example, you incur a non-emergency illness or injury after hours, you shouldn’t head to emergency care or call for emergency services to assist you. At the same time, if you are suffering from life-threatening issues, it’s best to call emergency services so you can receive medical attention as soon as possible. Dial the triple zero (000) emergency number only for emergencies; for unexpected and non-urgent health issues, there are more appropriate options even outside of business hours.