Table of Contents
The Taskforce recommends that the following principles should underpin MBS funding of after-hours services generally and urgent after-hours services in particular:
- After-hours GP services are essential services, highly valued by consumers, and no measures should be introduced which would impact adversely on their responsible provision by appropriately qualified health professionals.
- Urgent after-hours GP services should only be provided in genuinely urgent situations.
- The MBS fees for urgent after-hours services should reflect the complexity of the service and the lifestyle disruption and other imposts incurred by GPs who provide urgent after-hours services in addition to their normal in-hours workload.
- Ideally, after-hours services should be provided by GPs who have a relationship with the patient’s usual general practice, facilitating quality and continuity of care.
- After-hours services provided by medical deputising services have an important role in ensuring patients have access to necessary after-hours services, recognising that it is not feasible for all general practices to offer comprehensive after-hours care.
- Providers of MBS-funded urgent after-hours services should not market these services by prioritising convenience and low (or no) cost over clinical need.
- The rebate structure for after-hours services should not provide perverse incentives to divert services from in-hours to out-of-hours or to drive utilisation that is not commensurate with clinical need.