Project objectives

The aims of the Primary Health Network (PHN) After Hours Program are to:

  1. Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of after-hours primary health care for patients, particularly those with limited access to health services.
  2. Improve access to after-hours primary health care through effective planning, coordination and support for population-based after-hours primary health care.
  3. Improve the availability of after-hours GP services through working collaboratively.

The evaluation aimed to assess how well the program was being delivered and whether it continues to be the right response in the current context.

Australian Department of Health

Our approach

We developed an evaluation framework, supported by a program logic and theory from the perspectives of patients, providers, PHNs and government agencies. Key questions for the evaluation emerged from this theory. Methods to address these questions were formulated, and data sources identified and/ or instruments to collect data developed.

The evaluation used a mixed methods approach, including qualitative data drawn from 40 interviews with national stakeholder groups and PHNs, case studies in eight PHN localities and a survey of PHNs and service providers. The evaluation also included analysis of national data sourced from MBS, the practice incentive program and hospital data (covering emergency department presentations and preventable hospitalisations).


We made recommendations to sharpen the program’s focus, improve accountability and support the sustainability of services. Our recommendations recognised the importance of retaining flexibility in the program to meet local needs but also that the program target gaps in particular geographic areas or for specific population groups.

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