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After-hours care to increase

26 July 2011 - 6:40pm

The Gillard government has opened the fourth round of the General Practice After-Hours Grants Program.

Two-year grants of up to $100,000 are available to assist GPs with the costs that are incurred with remaining open after hours.

GPs can be expected to be open before 08:00 and after 18:00 Monday to Friday, before 08:00 and after 12:00 Saturday and all day Sunday and public holidays.

Acting minister for health and ageing Mark Butler says: "For many Australians, GP clinics are their first port-of-call when they fall ill. Improving access to quality, well-located after-hours GP services is a key element in building a stronger national primary healthcare system."

The fund comes as the government commits to widespread reform in primary health care.

After-hours care is crucial for improving general health and wellbeing all for Australians, regardless of whether they have private health insurance or are reliant on the public system.

Many people aren't able to visit a GP during opening hours due to work and family commitments.

The government has recognised the need for these people to receive medical attention during more flexible hours as it eases the burden on the hospital system by treating illness before it requires serious treatment in a hospital.