House calls to your home are under threat 7

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Do you remember a time when the doctor could easily be called to your home at whatever hour they were required? A lot has changed and today the Medicare-funded house calls you have access to are at risk, with the Federal Government under pressure to make changes to the service.

The after hours lifesavers beloved by families and emergency departments alike are concerned at eh potential repercussions of services being axed across Australia.

“There is currently a review of the home doctor service and, as always when the Government reviews something, vested interests have their claws out,” Dr Umberto Russo recently told the Daily Telegraph.

The chief medical director of the National Association for Medical Deputising added that some medical businesses see the home doctors are a threat to their business and argue it is expensive and want this important service cut.

The popularity of house call doctors has increased in recent years with more than 2.8 million families accessing the service in the last year. While some critics claim companies offering bulk-billed visits after hours are ‘ripping off’ Medicare, house call doctors have been found to have saved the healthcare system millions.

A Deloitte Access Economics report released in Canberra on November 21 revealed that without house calls there would be an additional $724 million over four years in annual costs as patients turn to public hospital emergency departments for treatment.

When 50,000 patients using after hours doctors were surveyed recently, 56 per cent said they would have called an ambulance, gone to an emergency department or attended an after hours clinic if they could not access a home visit.

In response to the proposed government cuts, a new campaign has been launched to warn Australians about the risk of losing house call doctors.

Have you ever accessed a doctor to your home? Do you think services such as these are invaluable? Share your thoughts with us.

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  1. I think they are a very important part of the health system and need to stay.

    1 REPLY
    • I agree that they need to be retained also to be extended to other regions. A great service for young families and the elderly particularly.

  2. I don’t know what I would have done without these services when I was caring for my elderly (97 yr old) mother on the Gold Coast. I managed to wheel her to the local doctor’s rooms during the day, but as she was barely mobile with a walker, getting her downstairs (quite an undertaking in itself) and into the car for a journey to the hospital waiting room at night was simply out of the question. We were reluctant to call the ambulance, since we were not able to diagnose her symptoms as being urgent or not, which is another reason to provide a qualified doctor to assess the situation. Being a full time career is difficult enough without this extra burden, not only on the carer but the hospitals and emergency services as well.

    1 REPLY
    • +1 Lauretta. This move will only clog up the Emergency Departments again. I thought the whole idea of having Locum Services was to take some of the stress away from the ED’s.

  3. Of course if aGoverning body is looking into this aspect of our medical structure they will muck it up as they constantly do these days. Those highly educated Politicians and Public Servants do not have enough common sense to be able to look at matters objectively. That service of such a long period of time is succesfull and continuing to grow is a matter that may impinge on their own power areas and of course they will make decisions that despite the beautiful words used to bring in their changes it will eventually cause a terrible change in our society, as usual and as expected.

  4. We live in a town of 10,000 with no public transport of any kind, no hosp & 1 ambulance (often not here as away on call outs), 2 f/t drs but no after hrs services. Yet there is an after hrs medical service that will come from the Brisbane city to attend patients further out of our town. They drive thru our town to get there but won’t service our community. Wonder why? If medicare are funding them, why are us other taxpayers being denied this service? No one seems to know why either. Surely this is a discrimination?

  5. I have used the after hours doctor, which saved me a lot of embarrassment due to the condition I had at the time. He was prompt and efficient. Great service, should stay and be extended to all who need it, I would have called the ambulance otherwise and be taken to hospital.
    My daughter has used the service for her small child when child needed medical assistance after hours. Saved having to wake everybody to go to the hospital, with a group of kids.

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