The old-fashioned house call doctor is alive and well!

Those of us of a certain age remember a bygone era when the family doctor made house calls. The doctor would come to the house about tea time, carrying a battered black leather bag, and put mother’s mind at rest about a sick child’s fever or grandad’s chesty wheeze.

But during the 1980s, General Practice began to change and doctors began to make fewer house calls. Some GPs kept it up, but in the past three decades the availability of doctors making house calls has almost halved. But the good news is that thanks to 13SICK, National Home Doctor Service, the old fashioned house call doctor is alive and well! 

Changes made to health care policy in 2005 - the Government’s “Round-the-Clock Medicare” policy - has meant that Doctors around Australia are now returning to house calls (or home visits as they are commonly referred to now). This means that you have access to a '24 hour doctor' on weekends and public holidays. This is especially good news for parents with small children, because children tend get sick at night or on the weekend, when GP Practices are closed. 

 

Children often fall ill at night or on the weekend, when GP practices are closed 

 

 

And it’s particularly good news for Emergency Departments, who often find their waiting rooms clogged with non-life-threatening illnesses, because sick and injured people have no other option but to seek help from hospital. 

13SICK, National Home Doctor Service is Australia’s largest network of home visiting doctors. Last year, our Doctors provided medical care to more than a million patients in the after hours. Many of those patients were babies or young children. Others were senior citizens or aged care residents.

Much of the anxiety and worry associated with illness in the after hours is relieved when our Doctor arrives to provide the medical treatment, advice and care the patient needs. And all our Doctors carry a bag that contains starter packs of various medications. So if needed, in many cases patients can start treatment immediately.

To ensure continuity of care with your usual GP, the following day we send a Doctor’s medical report to your GP - so they are kept in the loop. Sometimes our home-visiting Doctor will recommend a follow-up appointment with your GP, or recommend some tests. Everyone should have a regular GP they know and trust, because your GP is the best person to look after your life-long health. Read more about why it's so important to have your own GP.

What kind of illnesses do our Doctors treat in the after hours? Our Doctors treat acute, episodic illnesses and injuries, such as respiratory infections, migraines, gastro, fevers, urinary tract infections, and injuries from falls: conditions that, while not life-threatening, require urgent medical attention. You can read more about the top ten reasons patients call 13SICK.

13SICK, National Home Doctor is not a service for medical emergencies. If the patient’s symptoms are life threatening - such as serious injury, chest pain, shortness of breath, for example, you should go straight to hospital or call 000 for an ambulance. Nor does 13SICK treat requests for routine medical care, such as prescription repeats, management of chronic illnesses, referrals or check ups – these routine requests are best handled by your GP.

For urgent, episodic illness and injury, 13SICK is here for you. Our service is on the road from 6pm weeknights, 12 pm Saturdays, and all day Sundays and public holidays. You can call 13SICK and speak to one of our operators, or you can download the App and book a Doctor that way. 

We bulk bill all patients with a Medicare or Gold DVA Card, so the home visit won’t leave you out of pocket. 

Once your booking has been confirmed, you will receive an SMS with the estimated time of your Doctor’s arrival. Prior to Doctor’s arrival we ask patients to turn on an outside light and put away any pets. Most patients are seen within two to three hours, however wait times can vary, particularly during winter when there is peak demand for our service. 

With 13SICK, National Home Doctor Service – house calls really are alive and well.w

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