Many people don’t know where to turn when they’re worried about their own or a loved one’s health but there are a number of options open to you.
Chief Medical Advisor for Primary and Integrated Care, Campbell Brebner, says “There are a range of options if you’re unwell, or think you need help."
"Many are free or low cost. Its really important you don’t delay," he says. "If you get treatment early it can help avoid things getting serious."
There are some really useful online self help options that aren't Doctor Google.
Health Navigator is often a good place to start. It’s free, and run by health professionals, so it’s reliable.
Healthpoint is another online service. This website has details of GP clinics, midwives, pharmacists and other health professionals in your local area. It also has information on hospitals and outpatient clinics.
Call Healthline for FREE advice
Healthline is a free telephone advice line available 24 hours. It’s free whether you call from a landline or mobile and they’re specialists in assessing and advising over the phone.
Call them if you’re feeling unwell but you’re not sure if you need to see a doctor, if you want some advice about a family member or a friend who’s sick, or if you want advice on finding services near you.
Don’t call them if it’s a life-or-limb threatening medical emergency – in that case call 111.
Your local pharmacist
Pharmacists are registered health professionals who can provide free advice on a whole range of conditions such as eye infections, rashes and minor injuries.
Many also offer flu and COVID-19 vaccines, as well as being able to provide emergency contraception.
They can help if you’ve run out of your prescribed medication and can’t get to the doctor immediately. They can dispense up to three days’ supply of your meds to keep you going and they will direct you on to other healthcare care providers if need be.
See your GP
If the other options aren’t right and you do need to see a GP, it’s usually best to see your regular one who knows you best. And it may not be as pricey as you think.
Samantha Gregory, Programme Manager for Primary Care says you can always check with your GP whether they offer discounted consultation fees, sometimes known as Very Low Cost Access.
“Some offer fees such as $13 for rangitahi aged 14-17, and $19.50 for 18 and over. And it’s free for kids under 16 at almost all GP clinics in South Auckland.
“If you can’t get to your GP, it’s worth checking if they offer one of the online consultation options. These services can do a lot for you including sending a prescription to your pharmacy and ordering blood tests.”
And for some, you don’t need to be enrolled with a GP, they’re available for anyone.
- Only call an ambulance in cases of a life-or-limb-threatening emergency.
- Don’t always assume your GP isn’t available after hours. Many are open in the evenings and on weekends. Healthpoint has opening hours of clinics and what their fees are.
- Going to an Urgent Care Clinic may not be as expensive as you think. Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand) subsidises after-hours care for many people. You can check fees on Healthpoint.
- If your problem is serious and you need emergency care, the Emergency Department is the right place for you.