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After-hours health services

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In an emergency, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or thinking about suicide, call triple zero (000) or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Key facts

  • After-hours health services are services that you use when your usual doctor is closed.
  • Some medical problems are serious emergencies and should be seen in a hospital emergency department, but for many others, you can get help outside of the hospital.
  • GPs, dentists, urgent care clinics, pharmacists and counsellors are some of the professionals and services that can help you when you’re sick or injured.
  • You can find health services near you using the healthdirect Service Finder.
  • The cost of the care you receive depends on who provides it, but most telephone helplines are free.

What are ‘after-hours’ health services?

After-hours health services are services for people needing healthcare outside of normal general practice opening hours. However, they are not a hospital emergency department. They can manage problems that don’t need the emergency department, but that can’t wait for a GP to be available.

Which services are available?

There are many different healthcare services that are available after-hours including GPs, urgent care clinics, pharmacies, dentists and mental health counsellors.

A good place to start looking for services near you is the healthdirect Service Finder. You can also call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 to speak to a nurse for advice about which service is right for you.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.


Your doctor or clinic may provide some after-hours care or have another doctor that they recommend after-hours. You can find out by calling your clinic or visiting their website.

You can also use the healthdirect after-hours GP clinic search tool to look for after-hours doctors in your area.

Alternatively, you can contact your state’s medical deputising service. These services are available after-hours if you can’t reach your doctor, your doctor is unable to see you or you don’t have a regular doctor. Medical deputising services can offer you telehealth appointments, and they are usually bulk billed.

Here are some of the medical deputising services you can contact:

  • Home Doctor, on 13 74 25. Go to for operating hours and to check if your location is covered.
  • Call the Doctor, on 1300 640 471. This service is available for people in Hobart and Adelaide, go to for operating hours.
  • People in the ACT can call Canberra Afterhours Locum Medical Service (CALMS) on 1300 422 567 or visit
  • People in Victoria can access the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department at

Calls made to some of these services may involve a fee if they’re made outside of consultation hours or if the calls are from people who don’t live in an eligible postcode.

Call the service or check their website to see if you’re eligible.

Medicare Urgent Care Clinics (Medicare UCCS)

At Medicare UCCs you can get urgent health care that doesn't require an emergency department but cannot wait for a GP appointment. This includes things like minor fractures, small burns, urinary tract infections or serious stomach aches.

They are usually run by GPs, and are open for longer hours than regular GP clinics, seven days a week.

Medicare UCCs provide bulk billed healthcare, and don’t require an appointment or referral.

Use the healthdirect Service Finder to find your nearest Medicare UCC.


Many pharmacies are open after-hours for you to get your prescription medicine.

Pharmacists can also advise on common health problems and recommend treatments that don’t need a prescription from a doctor.


If you have a dental problem after-hours and aren’t sure if it can wait to be checked by your usual dentist, you can call the Australian Dental Foundation’s emergency dental hotline on 0407 111 117. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to discuss your symptoms and help connect you with a dentist near you.

Mental health care

Beyond Blue has 24-hour counselling support services for all Australians with mental health concerns.

Some states have 24-hour mental health care centres as an alternative to attending the ED.

Family planning

Emergency contraception (the ‘morning after’ pill) is available from pharmacies without a prescription. It’s important you take this medicine as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Follow up with a doctor as soon as you can since emergency contraception is not 100% effective.

Visit Family Planning Alliance Australia for after-hours information or call telephone hotlines for you to discuss your pregnancy options.


Some physiotherapists provide appointments outside of usual business hours. The Australian Physiotherapy Association’s Find a Physio directory can help you search for a physiotherapist in your local area.

Are there any costs involved?

Going to a pharmacy or calling a helpline for advice is usually free, but most after-hours health professionals will charge a fee to see you. It may be higher than the cost during normal hours, and it will depend on the provider you see. Some of the fee may be covered by Medicare.

When should I go to hospital?

You should go to a hospital emergency department (ED) if you or someone in your care is seriously ill or injured, or becomes unwell suddenly.

You may need to go to ED for these severe or urgent conditions:

If you’re injured from an accident or other incident, you may also need to go to an ED. For example:

Resources and support

  • healthdirect Service Finder can help you find services in your area, and you can get 24-hour health advice by calling healthdirect on 1800 022 222.
  • Lifeline has a 24-hour crisis and support line on 13 11 14 or you can text or chat with them online.
  • Beyond Blue can also be contacted for mental health support by phone or chat at any time.
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples can call the Yarning SafeNStrong helpline for support on 1800 959 563, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • If you are worried about a dental emergency after-hours, call the Australian Dental Foundation on 0407 111 117.
  • The National Relay Service can assist hearing- or speech-impaired people with changing voice to text or English to AUSLAN.
  • Non-English-speaking Australians can access interpreter assistance for telehealth via the National Translating and Interpreting Service free of charge and afterhours for 150 languages.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2023

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