Ngā whare rata kaupapa whānui General practices

Everyone should sign up (enrol) with a general practice to get help with all their health needs. Unless it is an emergency, your general practice should be your first point of contact for health advice and care. Find out what they do and how to enrol.

What general practices do

General practice teams can:

  • provide treatment when you are unwell
  • provide treatment and health advice for long-term conditions
  • treat injuries
  • help with wellbeing and mental health conditions
  • prescribe medicines and give injections
  • perform minor surgery
  • refer you to other health professionals when necessary and work with them to look after you
  • give lifestyle advice to help keep you well
  • give immunisations.

Team members

General practices teams vary between general practices and can include: 

  • Qualified doctors trained in general practice.
  • Practice nurses — registered nurses who provide nursing care, give treatment and advice.
  • Clinical nurse specialists — expert nurses with special skills and knowledge in a specific clinical area, such as diabetes. They can prescribe some medicines
  • Nurse practitioners — registered nurses with advanced education and clinical training. You may see a nurse practitioner instead of a GP. They can order tests, prescribe some medicines and treat you 
  • Counsellors and social workers
  • Health improvement practitioners and health coaches.

They may also include allied health professionals such as:

  • dietitians
  • occupational therapists
  • optometrists
  • osteopaths.

Choose your general practice

In Aotearoa New Zealand, you can choose the doctor or general practice that you visit.

You can search Healthpoint for general practices. You can filter your search based on their hours, location, services and if they are enrolling new patients.

GPs — Healthpoint (external link)

You can search the Medical Council's register to find out whether a doctor is currently registered and is able to practise in New Zealand, as well as other public information.  

Register of doctors —  Medical Council of New Zealand (external link)

Sometimes a general practice will not take on new patients. If this happens, they should refer you to their public health office (PHO) for help finding another practice. The PHO may put you on a waitlist, and arrange for you to get care in the meantime. You can also search Healthpoint PHOs.

Enrolment

It is free to enrol with a general practice. But they may charge a consultation fee each time you go to see them after that.

General practices normally charge a higher fee if you are not enrolled with their practice. This is often called a casual rate. 

If you enrol with a general practice your care will be subsidised. This means you will pay a reduced consultation fee. 

General practices can only enrol you if you are eligible for publicly funded health services. When you enrol you may be asked to show proof. This could include a passport or birth certificate. You will be asked to sign an enrolment form. 

Eligibility for publicly funded healthcare — Health New Zealand (external link)

Your medical records

Your medical record is kept with the general practice you are enrolled with. But any health professional involved in your care can look at your record. You can ask to look at your record at any time.

Your rights and privacy

What you will pay

General practices are private businesses. They set their own fees for visits and other health services they provide. 

The cost of a visit will be lower if you are enrolled with the practice. This is because the Government subsidises the fee for enrolled patients.

For a list of practices and their fees, check the website of your local primary health organisation.

Primary health organisations — Health New Zealand (external link)

Fees and subsidies

  • Accidents

    If you are seeing your general practice about an injury caused by an accident, you will be charged a lower fee if it is covered by ACC.

    Treatment we can help pay for — ACC

  • After hours care

    General practices are usually open business hours, Monday to Friday. There is a requirement that arrangements are put in place for patients to get care outside of these hours

    Check with your practice where you should go if you do need care outside working hours. You might have to visit an after hours accident and medical clinic or another practice.

    Call Healthline for free health advice from registered nurses, 24 hours a day. Phone 0800 611 116

  • Care Plus

    If you have a long-term health condition or a terminal illness, you may be eligible for Care Plus.

    General practices get extra Government funding for Care Plus patients. This means the practice can provide additional care at no further cost to you.

    Care Plus — Health New Zealand

  • Community Service Card

    If you are visiting a general practice where you are not enrolled, you will pay less if you have a Community Services Card.

    If you have a card and are enrolled with a general practice you will also get cheaper visits. This also includes visits relating to injuries at most practices, which are covered by ACC.

    Treatment we can help pay for — ACC

    More information is available on the Work and Income website. To check if you can get a card you can also call 0800 559 009

    Community Services Card — Work and Income

  • Maternity care

    You are entitled to free essential care during and after your pregnancy if your pēpi is born in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

    Services and support during pregnancy — Ministry of Health

  • Other fees

    General practices can charge a fee for services provided outside of a consultation. This includes repeat prescriptions or referral letters to a specialist.

  • Specialist care

    Your doctor may refer you to a hospital or specialist doctor for further assessment or diagnosis.

    • Specialist care is free through the public health system, but you may go on a waiting list.
    • If you want to get specialist advice quickly, you may wish to use a private hospital or specialist. You will have to pay a fee for this, unless you have private health insurance.
  • Very Low Cost Access

    Some general practices join a Very Low Cost Access programme run by their primary health organisation. This means they get extra Government funding to keep their fees at low levels for all enrolled patients.

  • Zero fees for tamariki aged 13 and under

    All tamariki aged 13 and under are eligible for free general practice visits. This includes visits during the day and after hours. Not all general practices provide free visits, so check with your general practice first.

    Zero fees for tamariki under 14

Changing your general practice

When you enrol with a new general practice, you will be asked to sign a form so your records can be transferred from your old practice.

A practice should not refuse to enrol you unless they already have too many patients.

A practice can end your enrolment if there is an ‘irreparable breakdown’ in the relationship.

If you want to make a complaint about the care you get from your general practice contact either the: 

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