If you need help for an unexpected medical issue, there are after-hours healthcare options that don’t involve a trip to a hospital emergency department. These options include telephone helplines, pharmacies, after-hours doctor and medical clinics, or a doctor visiting you at home.
For unexpected medical issues that are not an emergency, there are services that may offer a quicker response than a hospital emergency room.
When emergency medical help is required
If you or someone you know is having a life-threatening medical issue or is experiencing severe pain, call triple zero (000) or visit the emergency department of your nearest public hospital for urgent medical treatment.
Some private hospitals may have emergency departments and charge fees for medical services, which may not be covered by Medicare. If you are uncertain and if you can, ask the triage nurse about costs when you arrive.
Helpline for non-urgent medical issues
If you have questions about a medical issue, you can call the helpline NURSE-ON-CALL for advice and assistance. NURSE-ON-CALL is a phone service that provides immediate, expert health advice from a registered nurse, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This helpline is can be accessed for the cost of a local or mobile phone call:
Tel: 1300 60 60 24
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Pharmacists and Supercare Pharmacies
Talking to a pharmacist can be the easiest way to receive advice and treatment for minor injuries and ailments.
A pharmacist may be able to help with healthcare issues like headaches, coughs or colds.
Pharmacists can recommend and provide over-the-counter medication, such as pain relief. For help with minor injuries and ailments, medical supplies, such as bandages and dressings, are also available.
A growing number of pharmacists are trained to administer standard vaccines such as flu and whooping cough. As of 12 August 2018, the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is also being made accessible from some pharmacies.
Some pharmacies stay open after standard business hours.
Twenty Supercare Pharmacies operate across Victoria. They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provide a free nursing service, daily from 6pm to 10pm.
Find out more about the location and services of Supercare Pharmacies.
If you have an ongoing medical issue or injury, you should follow up with your doctor.
After-hours medical clinics
Some medical clinics stay open in the evenings and on weekends, which can be a good option for people who need to see a doctor after hours for non-emergency medical treatment.
Always call beforehand to find out:
- if you can make an appointment
- how long you are likely to have to wait to see a doctor
- if the clinic bulk bills or how much you have to pay.
Home visits from an after-hours doctor
General practices often provide after-hours services. When you visit your regular general practitioner, ask what after-hours services they offer. If you telephone your general practice after hours, it will probably have a message service telling you of the available or alternative services to contact.
If your regular general practice does offer after-hours care, keep the contact number in a safe place in case you need it in the future.
If your regular GP does not provide after-hours care, you may be able to book a doctor to visit you at home between 6.00 pm and early morning through one of the services listed below. Not all home visit services cover all areas. Check with each service to see if your suburb or area is covered.
A home visit may be bulk-billed if you are registered with Medicare or Veterans Affairs. If you are not registered with either, you can ask about costs before you book.
Call 13 26 60
My Home GP
Call 1300 968 737
National Home Doctor
Call 13 7245
Where to get help
- In an emergency, always call triple zero (000)
- Your GP (doctor)
- NURSE-ON-CALL, Tel: 1300 60 60 24 – for expert health information and advice (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Department of Health and Human Services
Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Health & Human Services shall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.