Objective: To evaluate factors associated with the availability of same or next day appointments and after-hours access reported by Australian general practitioners (GPs).
Methods: Secondary analysis of a survey of primary care practitioners conducted by the Commonwealth Fund in 2009 in 11 countries. Analysis of factors likely to be associated with reported availability of same or next day appointments and after-hours access.
Findings: Of 1016 Australian GPs, 78.8% reported that most patients in their practice had access to an appointment on the same or next day and 50% that their practice had arrangements for after-hours access. Access to same or next day care was better in practices where practitioners reported larger numbers of patients seen per GP per week and reviewed their performance against annual targets, but worse in rural areas and practices routinely reviewing outcomes data. Arrangements for after-hours care were more common among GPs who were planning to retire in the next 5 years; worked in practices with high electronic functioning information systems; and received and reviewed clinical outcome data and incentives for performance.
Conclusions: Improving after-hours access requires a comprehensive approach which includes incentives, improvements to information management and organised systems of care with review of data on clinical outcomes.