Should Medical Professionals Work as an After Hours Doctor?


A general practitioner (GP) can be utilized in a number of different medical environments.

There is the private practice, a hospital, a specialized medical facility and now the after hours doctor option.

When patients feel they cannot adequately attend an appointment in person, they require an alternative service and this is where the after hours element comes into play.

For those GPs debating the merits of working in this setting, they will have some opinions, reservations and theories of their own.

Here we will delve into the rise of the out-of-business-hours practitioner to see if it is suitability for your individual circumstances as a doctor.


Rise in Demand

Since the introduction of the 13-SICK initiative through the National Home Doctor Service, those patients that have booked an appointment with an after hours doctor has risen sharply since 2010. A steady rise in the rate would occur in the following years, but a sudden spike of 27% would take place between 2013 to 2017, illustrating that consumer behaviours and attitudes to this niche had altered. This can largely be attributed to convenience as older and disabled individuals would take to this preference, avoiding lengthy waiting times and facing the travel logistics of visiting practices in the city. So if you happen to be considering this field, it is worthwhile understanding that the demand has risen and will only continue to spike up if this initiative continues.


Bulk Billing Practices

Those patients hoping to utilize an after hours doctor will be bulk billed if they have a Medicare card on their person. An after hours clinic is expected to bill approximately $75 for home visitations. Yet there are higher rates for emergency situations that are booked beyond the 11pm mark and before 7AM. Given the logistics that are involved, this is a field where similarities and parallels are instituted to include bulk billing, just like a general practice. What makes this unique is that the charges are inflated to constitute the necessity of the home visitation where a doctor has to embark on their own travel and to operate in an environment that is not common to them.


Geographic Location

Where you are based will determine the suitability of being an after hours doctor or remaining within the confines of a private practice, hospital or emergency service. The sharp incline in bookings is largely attributed to metropolitan and suburban locations in Australia, making regional visits rare due to the logistical challenges involved. Consider the demand of the location before setting forth as an after hours professional.


Medical Experience

doctor checking a patient's blood pressure

Experience is an element to consider for an after hours doctor as those that are consigned to a medical deputising service or MDS for short are specialised professionals. They have to be geared and prepared between those 6pm to 6am periods to travel with an essential pack of supplies, equipment and supplements to cater to the patient needs. Peers who have spoken about this career choice do recommend a number of years working within a well structured and supported environment before venturing out into the community. The experience element will differ depending on the circumstances, but individuals need to build up a degree of trust in the practitioner in order to make semi-regular bookings.



Based on your own experiences as a medical professional, you will be able to speak to peers and colleagues about their thoughts operating as an after hours doctor. It is a unique field to work in in given the environment and circumstances entering the premises of a residential home rather than in your own private practice or hospital. Being removed from a familiar setting can be a challenge but if you believe this is a way to compliment your career or to transition into a new profile to service the community at large, then it embrace it.