Submission to the After Hours Primary Health Care Review

New Submission

COTA welcomes the opportunity to provide comment to the After Hours Primary Health Care Review. After-hours care is highly valued by older people and access to it is one of the most frequently raised issues when we talk with older people about health concerns. Our comments below respond to the review's Terms of Reference.

Consumer expectations and needs

The needs of older people

After-hours services that offer home visits are optimum for older people. It is well-known that older people are increasingly ageing in place. Whether people stay at home or live in an aged care facility, it is important they have access to health services that help them to deal with illness or other events after-hours.

Any transition to new arrangements, including timing 

Role of PHOs in After-Hours Care

COTA is aware that Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) will replace Medicare Locals as the
coordinators of primary health care from July 2015. Professor Horvath's review of Medicare
Locals stated that there was a need to improve the patient experience through ‘working
collaboratively with health professionals and services.

Appropriate and effective delivery strategies, taking into account current and available mechanisms

Harnessing Community Transport Resources

As stated, COTA believes that home visiting after-hours services are often the most
appropriate option for older people. However, we understand that setting up these services
will take time and there may be gaps in coverage.

The GP Helpline

COTA believes the GP Helpline is an excellent provider of health advice to people when their doctor is unavailable. It is not our view that this service is adequate to replace after-hours home visiting services. However, it is a useful and welcome element of a suite of after-hours \options that can assist older people to make informed decisions about whether face-to-face consultations or emergency presentations are necessary.

The use of video conferencing for after-hours primary health care services

COTA believes video-conferencing is useful to augment existing health services and cut down waiting times for face-to-face services. It may be particularly useful in aged care settings where the co-location of users increases the economic viability of purchase and training costs.

Delivery challenges in rural and remote regions

Low levels of public transport, the expense of travel and a lack of local services are all well-known challenges of rural and regional service provision. Older people face increased risk of isolation in these settings and this is why it is imperative that health services, including those offered after-hours, are accessible.

 Download COTA's full Submission to the After Hours Primary Health Care Review

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