After-hours doctor service can save trip to hospital


Doctor Sajid Qamar with patient Chase and mum Hayley Zammar.
Picture: Marie Nirme           www.communitypix.com.au d448514
Doctor Sajid Qamar with patient Chase and mum Hayley Zammar. Picture: Marie Nirme         www.communitypix.com.au d448514

Her young son Chase was burning up with a fever.

It was late at night and Ms Zammar was unsure about what to do next – take her child to hospital or wait for her husband to return home?

“I was also sick myself, it would have been almost impossible to get in a car and drive him to the emergency department,” she said.

“It was very stressful. I felt helpless.”

Ms Zammar was able to care for her child until her husband returned.

Chase was soon on the mend, but the experience is one she hopes will not happen again.

But a service launched in Perth late last year has helped make medical care easier for people like Ms Zammar.

The National Home Doctor Service offers bulk-billed, after-hours care to people at home or in aged care facilities.

Medicare data shows West Australians are less likely to use services like this than people in other states.

But Spiro Doukakis, a GP and medical director at National Home Doctor Service, said these services provided a better option than an emergency department when the patient needs to see a doctor, but it was not an emergency situation.

“After every home visit, National Home Doctor Service sends a report to the patient’s regular GP, ensuring continuity of care for patients,” he said.

Australian Medical Association (WA) President Dr Michael Gannon welcomed the entry of another after-hours service.

“It is essential that people in the community have easy access to GP care after hours, particularly if it prevents unnecessary clogging of emergency departments,” he said.

“However the AMA reminds the people of WA of the importance of maintaining a relationship with their own GP.

“Your own GP knows your medical history and that of your family better than anyone else, and ensures that there is no fragmentation of care.”