New Zealand proudly boasts a ‘clean green’ image and compared to other developed world countries we are seen as a great place that provides fresh unpolluted air, low cases of disease, easy access to fresh organic produce and clean drinking water.
Emergency telephone numbers are listed in the front pages of all local telephone directories and also displayed in public telephone booths throughout New Zealand. If you require the police, fire or ambulance services in an emergency you should dial 111.
DOCTORS – Your General Practitioner (GP) is usually the first person you should contact if you require medical advice or diagnosis. (For all serious injuries and complaints you should go to a public hospital directly). GPs operate private businesses and so are able to set their own fees for consultations and other services. However, the Government provides a subsidy to reduce the cost of GP visits and prescriptions. The GP or the pharmacist claims subsidies from the Government so the effect for the patient is a lower fee.
You can select your own GP (Doctor) however it is usually more practical to select a practice/surgery that is local to you. If you choose to change your GP you should ensure that your medical notes or file is transferred to your new GP. To find a suitable GP look in the special medical section in the front of your local telephone book for a list of GP’s and contact details.
PHARMACISTS – Pharmacists generally work in pharmacies (also known as Chemists) and can be found in suburban areas, shopping malls or near medical establishments.
Pharmacists are able to offer advice on the safety and use of medicines along with general information on some common health problems. They dispense medicines that have been prescribed by your GP as well as being able to sell ‘over the counter’ medicines that do not require a doctor’s prescription.
PUBLIC HOSPITALS – New Zealanders have an extensive health service available to them with approximately 445 hospitals in New Zealand. Approximately 85 of these hospitals are publicly funded and run by organizations called District Health Boards (DHBs).
The majority of essential health care services are provided free through the public health system (excluding dentistry and optometry) however most hospital doctors (specialists) can only been seen after referral from your local GP. If you are referred to a specialist or hospital you can choose to go publicly or privately.
PRIVATE HOSPITALS – There are a large number of private hospitals in New Zealand, if you choose to use a private hospital you will be required to pay for the services of the hospital, for example private specialists and consultants. The benefits of private hospital treatment are the lack of ‘waiting lists’ and more personalized care due to a smaller number of patients requiring attention and care compared to a public hospital. Many waiting lists for surgery through the public hospital system are long while private hospitals can provide quicker consultation and surgery options on a ‘user pays’ basis which reduces waiting lists for private care.
FAMILY PLANNING CLINICS – Family Planning Clinics are situated throughout New Zealand and provide sexual health, contraception and fertility health care. The cost of a consultation is similar your local GP’s fee.
WOMENS HEALTH – New Zealand women have access to a large selection of women orientated services and programmes available throughout the country.
New Zealand pregnancy and childbirth related care is free (except for care provided by private obstetricians). This care covers the diagnosis of pregnancy, antenatal care, childbirth and postnatal care.
BreastScreen Aotearoa is the national breast cancer-screening programme which is aimed at promoting and educating on breast cancer and screening. This programme is designed to identify and contact women who are eligible for free breast cancer screening plus follow up support.
The National Cervical Screening Programme is aimed at reducing the number of women in New Zealand who develop cervical cancer and the number who die from it. Enrollment is free and available by contacting your local GP. Once enrolled you will receive results of your cervical smears taken within the programme along with a reminder when you are due for your next Cervical Smear.
CHILDREN’S HEALTH – Government subsidies for GP visits for all children aged under six years is $35.00, which means that most visits for children under six years is free. Public health nurses also visit primary schools regularly to check children while most schools have a resident dental nurse. These services are free through the government education/health system.
The Ministry of Health (Government) fully supports immunization, which is why it is a free service. Immunization protects against measles, mumps, rubella, polio, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus, Haemophilus influenza (Hib) and Hepatitis B.
Plunket New Zealand is the major provider of child and family health services in New Zealand. The Plunket programmes aim to support families with young children and are the only non-profit organization to provide these facilities to New Zealand families.
ACCIDENT COMPENSATION – Treatment by a registered health professional for accident related injuries is subsidized by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) of New Zealand, however user part-charges for GP visits or other recommended treatments (such as physiotherapists) resulting from the accident should be expected. ACC cover is automatic, you do not have to join or register for this service.