Medical deputising explained
13SICK, National Home Doctor Service is the largest network of home visiting doctors in Australia. The service we provide is also known in medical circles as a 'Medical Deputising' service. The term reflects the idea that Doctors working in the after hours are 'deputising' for daytime General Practitioners.
Complementing General Practice
Medical Deputising Services provide urgent, after hours primary health care to patients at home and in aged care facilities, on behalf of the patient’s regular GP. This ensures that patients have 24 hour access to quality primary care, even when their GP is closed.
Working as a complementary service to General Practice, we ensure continuity of care for patients. Our Doctors send a patient report through to the patient’s usual GP so they are kept informed of the home visit. Our service encourages all patients to maintain a strong relationship with a family GP, recognising that this is critical for lifelong health. To read more about why it’s important to have your own GP, click here.
As the leader in medical deputising in Australia, our focus is on delivering a quality medical service. We are accredited to the RACGP standards for General Practice, and we constantly seek feedback from patients and their GPs. We use this to support doctor mentoring and continuous improvement. Our Clinical Advisory Group of Medical Directors sets all clinical policy.
In the last decade, Medical Deputising Services have grown in response to community demand for urgent after hours medical care. Changes to Medicare funding have helped make this possible, and have in turn led to a positive shift away from low-acuity presentations to hospital Emergency Departments. Surveys among our patients consistently show that if they could not access an after hours home visit, around 40% believe they would have attended a hospital ED. Services like National Home Doctor not only relieve the pressure on hospital EDs, they also save the taxpayer money, as an urgent after hours visit is far less costly than a trip to ED or an ambulance call out.
Who uses our service?
Our service is focused on patients with an acute, episodic illness or injury, who need urgent medical attention. It is not for emergencies, (go to hospital) and it is not for routine care (go to your GP when they are next open). Nor do we manage chronic disease, unless a patient needs urgent attention; chronic disease management requires the ongoing care of General Practice.
The majority of our patients are either very young (babies and children under 4 years of age) or elderly (residents of aged care facilities). The conditions our Doctors typically see in the after hours include illnesses such as respiratory tract infections, asthma flare ups, urinary tract infections, gastroenteritis, skin infections, ear ache and migraine: illnesses that, while not emergencies, may require urgent attention from a doctor.
More than half the calls to our service are made not by the patients themselves, but by carers. This may be the worried parents of sick children, the husband or wife of a sick partner, the carer of an ageing relative, or the nurses or clinical managers in an aged care facility.
Find out more
If you would like to read more about the Medical Deputising Services sector, you may find the following documents and websites of interest:
White Paper - Improved Access to After Hours Services: A Policy Success
The Medical Deputising Services Sector – An Industry Overview