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:
Call 1300 60 60 24
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Pharmacists and Supercare Pharmacies
Talking to a pharmacist is free and some pharmacies stay open after business hours.
Supercare Pharmacies have recently been introduced and are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and offer a nursing service from 6pm to 10pm. Find out more about the location and services of Supercare Pharmacies.
A pharmacist may be able to help with minor healthcare issues like headaches, coughs or colds.
Pharmacists can recommend over-the-counter medication, such as pain relief, which does not need a prescription. They also have medical supplies, such as bandages and dressings, which can help with minor injuries.
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
- NURSE-ON-CALL, call 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 education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.