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Can Doctors Come to Your Home After Hours?

What Is A Home Doctor?

A home doctor is a doctor who visits a patient at their home including patients that live in care homes. Other names for home doctors in Australia are:

  • *  After hours doctor

  • *  After hours GP

  • *  Locum doctor

  • *  Home visit doctor

  • *  House call doctor

  • *  A night doctor

Home Doctor Visits

What Time of Day Do Home Visits Take Place?

In Australia, most home doctor visits take place in the after hours period when a patient’s regular GP is not available. This is why they are also known as After Hours Doctors or After Hours GPs.

Although daytime GP home visits do take place, they are much less common as GPs can make more money in a GP practice in the daytime.

GPs are much less inclined to undertake daytime home visits in recent years as government funding has not kept up with the increasing costs of running a GP practice. This means that they must focus on earning money in their practice in order to cover the costs of running the practice.

What Does A Home Doctor Do?

Many home doctors are GPs or GPs in training that are picking up additional shifts. Others are doctors who also work in local hospitals. They care for:

  • *  patients too unwell to wait to see their GP the next day

  • *  patients that are too sick to attend the GP Practice

  • *  those with mobility challenges making a trip to a clinic too difficult

  • *  residents of care homes (e.g. nursing homes or disability care homes)

By providing care when regular GPs are not available, after hours doctors aim to keep patients out of local Emergency Departments (ED) wherever possible. However, some patients will still need to attend the ED for investigations and treatment that cannot be provided in their home.

After Hours Home Doctors

Do Home Doctors Give Prescriptions?

Yes, home doctors can write scripts for patients when this is required. Many also carry starter medications so that sick patients can start treatment without delay.

After hours doctors typically do not provide repeat scripts for chronic health conditions (e.g. tablets for high blood pressure) as these scripts should be provided by the patient’s regular GP. This is because the regular GP knows the patient’s medical history better and so is in a better position to carry out medication reviews.

How long does the doctor take to arrive?

The time it takes for a doctor to arrive depends on several factors:

  • *  How many doctors are on the road

  • *  The time of year. Winter periods are normally busier due to a spike in chest infection illnesses and the flu

  • *  The time of day. Early evening is normally the busiest period and can mean longer waits

  • *  The home doctor service. Some services are better staffed than others. Also, some after hours doctor services are private billing can sometimes mean shorter wait times as less patients are booking in.

Some services will provide the patient with an estimated time of arrival, although because medicine is unpredictable, delays can occur. For example, if the doctor needs to call an ambulance for a sick patient.

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