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After-hours medical deputising services: patterns of use by older people

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The known Older people are using emergency medical services at increasing rates. Little is known about their use of alternative care options, such as after-hours primary care and deputising services. 

The new Residents of aged care facilities more frequently used medical deputising services than patients dwelling in the community; their increase in use over 2008–2012 was nearly double that of older people in the community. 

The implications The increasing use of medical deputising services by older patients highlights the need to better integrate them with existing services, and for oversight to ensure their appropriate use. 

Australian acute health care services handle an ever increasing number of emergency department (ED) presentations, especially by older patients.1 Similarly, the need for emergency ambulance transportation for people aged 85 years or more has risen dramatically.2 With an ageing population, the demand on ED services is expected to increase even further,3 but an estimated 40% of all ED presentations are potentially avoidable and could be handled safely by primary care services.4