After Hours Response - Waikato

Patients enrolled at general practices in Hamilton and surrounding areas have had 24-hour access to health care support and advice since mid-September, simply by calling their general practice. 

When a patient calls their practice outside normal opening hours, they are now supported by a new administrative and clinical triage service coordinated by Midlands Health Network. Any general queries are managed by the call operator, but if it is a clinical query or the patient needs medical advice, the patient is passed onto a Healthline nurse who follows a formal assessment and clinical triage process.

In mid-February 2014, the network added a new step in the medical triage process to better support patients needing medical help and to take away some of the burden patients experience in paying for after hours care.  now, if a patient is triaged by the nurse and the nurse determines that they need further medical care, they will be able to speak free of charge with a doctor based at Anglesea Clinic.  The doctor will decide if the patient needs to be seen in person, and if so, the patient will receive a subsidy to visit their nearest or most convenient accident and medical clinic. This is an option that patients would not have had before.

Getting the right support to patients at the right time and in the right place is the guiding principle behind this service.   This is a first of its kind in New Zealand and tele-health care training has been provided to support the initiative.  The service is more credible as it has been backed by professional medical bodies like the Medical Council of New Zealand to support telephone triage in urgent care settings.

The overall goal is to broaden how patients access after-hours care; making services for patients easily accessible by connecting service providers offering clinically safe, convenient, and low-cost after-hours options to patients. The subsided fee charged to the patient at the accident and medical clinic will be in line with the fee practices currently charge enrolled patients. 

Frequently asked questions

Is the After Hours Response service clinically sound?

Absolutely.  Patient Access Centre staff are trained in using clinically sound algorithm to triage patients.  Experienced registered nurses provide health information and recommend appropriate care for callers with symptoms.  All Healthline nurses have tele-nursing training and work within the Nursing Council's Professional Standards for tele-nursing practice.  The nurses use their clinical experience and a sophisticated, internationally approved electronic clinical decision support system to advise the most appropriate level of care for callers.

The enhanced medical triage provided by doctors at Anglesea Accident and Medical further increases the clinical safety of the service.

Are practices charged us to use the service?

No.  Waikato DHB has funded the majority of the service.  The local primary health organisations have picked up the remaining costs on your behalf.

Which practices is the service available to?

Beerescourt Medical Practice

Cambridge Medical Centre

Chartwell Health Centre

Clarence Medical Centre

Dallas Clinic

Dinsdale Medical Centre

Dr A E Pinfold

Dr K Pillay

Dr N P E Schofield

Drs Pearson and Nyce

Fairfield Medical Centre

Flagstaff Medical Centre

Glenview Medical Centre

Hakanoa Health Centre

Hamilton East Medical Centre

Hillcrest Medical Centre

Huntly West Medical Centre Ltd

Leamington Medical Centre

Little London Medical Clinic

Mahoe Med Ltd

Morrinsville Medical Centre

NorthCare Grandview Road

NorthCare Pukete/Thomas Road

Redicare Family Practice

River Road Family Practice

South City Health Ltd

Te Awamutu Medical Centre

Victoria Clinic Limited

West Coast Health

Westend Health Centre

Wintec Health Services

Will this service cost the patients anything to use?

Only if they require a face-to-face consultation, in which case the subsidised rate will be charged to the patient at the accident and medical clinic.

How will the practice know if one of their patients has accessed this service?

The practice will receive an update in their PMS by Healthline and the accident and medical clinic staff.

Why is it only available to patients enrolled in practices in Hamilton and surrounding areas?

The population in Hamilton and surrounding areas has the biggest impact on the hospital emergency department.  Midlands Health Network will be collaborating with other practices after September on what works well in their area and if this service would be suitable to meet their needs.

Won't patients get confused if they are not enrolled in one of these practices?

All patients can use the service. For example patients might pluck a number out of the phone book, or be visiting relatives who are enrolled.

In order to receive a subsidy patients will need to be eligible for public health funding.

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