Additional Counties Manukau-based weekend health services to help support winter surge

To help respond to a large surge in winter illnesses, which has seen record numbers of presentations at Middlemore Hospital’s Emergency Department, people in Counties Manukau needing healthcare this weekend and over the Matariki long weekend will have access to free appointments at participating General Practices.

A range of General Practices in Counties Manukau will be providing addditional weekend clinics with free health consultations. In addition, all other weekend appointments at other General Practices in Counties Manukau will be free.

In addition, for the next week many pharmacies in Counties Manukau will also be able to provide free pain relief (paracetamol or ibuprofen) for children aged 13 years and under without a prescription.

People are also being encouraged to call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for information or advice on how to manage cold or flu symptoms. Healthline is free, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and has interpreters available. Anyone wanting health advice can contact Healthline and get the support they need and information about what to do, including self-care advice.

A surge in winter illnesses is putting increasing strain on healthcare across Tāmaki Makaurau, with influenza now far surpassing COVID-19 as the leading cause of respiratory-related hospitalisations. Counties Manukau has been particularly hard hit by winter illnesses, with hospitals, urgent care clinics and GPs all facing a big surge in demand.

Counties Manukau Chief Executive, Dr Pete Watson, said he is incredibly grateful for the increased support from General Practice, Urgent Care clinicians and pharmacists at such a challenging time.

“People in Counties Manukau have been particularly hard hit by winter illnesses this year, particularly flu.

“If you’re feeling unwell over the next couple of weekends, we encourage you to call Healthline or access one of these additonal free clinics.

“We know many of those GPs and nurses who are putting their hands up to help over the next two weekends are already very busy with the winter surge, and we’re incredibly grateful for their support.”

Details of the clinics providing free appointments and extra support are available on the NRHCC website. The free appointments will apply from 5pm Friday 17 June through to 7am Monday 20 June, and 5pm Thursday 23 June through to 7am Monday 29 June.

These extra services will be in place for the next two weekends and will be monitored to see if further extension is required.

Dr Watson also encourages people to use the help available to people through Healthline. 

“The Healthline team provides clinical advice to people who are unwell at home. They have clinicians available to help people with self-care advice and whether they need additional care such as attending a clinic.

He said if people have underlying health conditions which often leave them at high risk of a worsening illness over winter, they should put a plan in place with their health care provider, to understand when they should seek escalated care.

Dr Watson also said pharmacies are also continuing to play a critical role in providing health advice to local families.

“We know many parents are worried about their children when they are sick with colds and the flu.

“Pharmacies have trained healthcare professionals who can provide support and advice, including free pain relief for children over the next week.”

Posted in media release;

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