Review of after hours primary care policies and programs

Closed 20 Apr 2024

Opened 20 Mar 2024


The Australian Department of Health and Aged Care is undertaking a review of after hours primary care policies and programs. The Review will consider the need for primary care after hours services, the current state of after hours service provision and successful models of primary care after hours service provision.

This consultation process is open to the general public, however input is sought especially from primary care providers, including practice owners and managers, general practitioners, non-vocational doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners, allied health practitioners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, Primary Health Networks and others working in primary care. Input is sought from those who currently provide after hours services, as well as those who do not.

You can participate in this consultation either by completing the survey and / or by providing a written submission. You will have an opportunity to upload a written submission at the end of the survey. If you wish to provide a written submission without completing the survey, you can email your written submission to

The consultation paper provides more information about the Review, including emerging areas of focus.


The after hours primary care system exists to assist consumers with non-emergency health issues outside of normal general practice opening hours, and to avoid consumers attending hospital emergency departments. It is delivered in multiple physical and virtual settings, including by private general practices, state and territory primary care clinics, hospital services, Medicare Urgent Care Clinics, Healthdirect, aged care facilities and First Nations health services. There are a range of diverse funding streams for after hours services including Medicare, Practice Incentive Payments, and patient co-contributions.

The complete after hours period covers: 

  • outside 8 am to 6 pm on weekdays
  • outside 8 am to 12 pm on Saturdays
  • all day on Sundays and public holidays

It is further broken down into the sociable after hours period (6 pm to 11 pm on weeknights), and the unsociable after hours period:

  • 11 pm to 8 am on weekdays
  • outside 8 am to 12 pm on Saturdays
  • all day Sunday and public holidays.

In May 2023, the Australian Government announced improvements to after hours primary care access, primarily through the Primary Health Networks After Hours program and Healthdirect’s after hours GP helpline. Improving access to after hours primary care services is also a recommendation of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce’s Final Report, and Australia’s Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan 2022-2032

The Review builds on a range of previous reviews undertaken between 2016 and 2020 and is taking place in parallel to and in close association with a separate review of general practice incentive programs and in awareness of other contemporary reviews and reform activities. It is separate and complementary to the Department’s Review of General Practice Incentives, which is taking place concurrently.


  • Health professionals
  • Health workforce
  • Businesses
  • Contracted Service Providers


  • e-Health
  • Rural health services
  • Home Care