Find out information about the health system in New Zealand and how to access medical services in Dunedin.
Who do I call in an emergency?
In a life and death emergency, dial 111 and ask for an ambulance.
You will need to state your address clearly to the operator. Do not hang up until the operator says to do so. The operator will have questions for you about the nature of the emergency and may give you further instructions.
Where do I go for emergency treatment?
Urgent care is available from the Urgent Doctors and Accident Centre, open from 8am to 11.30pm daily, located at 18 Filleul Street, Dunedin, ph 479 2900. Costs apply.
Dunedin Hospital has an Accident and Emergency Department, at 201 Great King St, phone 03 474 0999. This is free and operates 24 hours, but is a very busy department and quicker service for minor injuries or illness can be found at the Urgent Doctors.
What about emergency chemists/pharmacies?
The Urgent Pharmacy is located immediately next door to the Urgent Doctors in 18 Filleul Street. It is open from 10am to 10pm every day including weekends and public holidays.
Who pays for emergency treatment?
If your emergency is the result of an accident of any kind, your resulting healthcare will be paid for by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).
ACC provides personal injury cover for all New Zealand citizens, residents and temporary visitors to New Zealand. Your doctor or healthcare professional will assist you with relevant forms if yours is an ACC case. A link to the ACC website can be found in the related information section below.
How do I get non-emergency health care?
For day-to-day health care, it is recommended you enrol with a GP (General Practitioner or doctor).
Many of our GPs work in larger medical practices with their own nursing staff, and some offer their own after-hours care. Most, however, will refer you to the Urgent Doctors and Accident Centre for after-hours care.
How do I choose a doctor?
To find a GP in your area, check the front of your telephone book, in the green pages, under Registered Medical Practitioners and Medical Centres.
You are free to register with a doctor of your choice, anywhere in the city. If you decide to change GPs, it is important to tell your new doctor of your previous enrollment so records can be sent on.
Who pays for non-emergency treatment?
Unless you have health insurance which will pay for or assist with costs, you are responsible for your health care costs in a non-accident situation.
Children under 6 are eligible for a subsidy from the Government to visit a GP and for some medicines. This may mean a free visit or free medication, or a smaller fee than adult patients. The Doctor will claim the subsidy from the Government.
People on low incomes or of pension age may qualify for cheaper doctor's visits through a Community Services Card. There is also financial assistance for those people who have high health needs through a High Use Health Card (HUHC). Ask your doctor, or use the related information section below to find more information about these cards.
What about health insurance?
If you have health insurance, some or all of your costs may be met.
How do I get specialist health care?
Specialists are accessed through referrals from your doctor. If you have health insurance, or choose to pay, you may be able to access private specialists. Otherwise, you will be referred to specialists at Dunedin Hospital. There may be a waiting time depending on urgency.
What can I get at a chemist?
Pharmacists can offer advice on the safety and correct use of medicines and some health problems. They are able to sell you over the counter medicines, which do not require a doctor's prescription, and dispense medicines you have been prescribed by your doctor.
There is generally no charge to talk to a pharmacist about your health or medicines. But not all staff in a pharmacy are pharmacists, so if seeking specific health or medicine advice ask to speak to the pharmacist in the store.
We're having a baby - how does the maternity system work?
The Ministry of Health website listed below in related information offers an outline of the maternity system
Where can I find family planning advice?
The Family Planning Association offers low-cost or free advice. Your doctor will also be able to help. Their website is listed below in the related information section.
What about alternative health treatments?
Many natural therapists are registered with the New Zealand Natural Health Practitioners Accreditation Board. You can write for a list of registered natural therapists to Box 37 491, Auckland. This covers homoeopaths, osteopaths, herbalists, remedial body therapists and some other specialties. Information may also be available at health shops in the city.
Can I get free health advice over the phone?
If you are not sure whether you need medical help you can phone Healthline on freephone 0800 611 116.
Healthline lets you talk to a registered nurse any time, 24 hours a day, and it is free and confidential. The staff at Healthline will advise you what action to take. Healthline also incorporates PlunketLine, which is responsible for advice for children under five years of age.
New Zealand also has a National Poisons Centre, based in Dunedin, which offers 24-hour advice on poisons: Phone 0800 764766.
If you wish for advice and support to stop smoking, call Quitline free on 0800 778 778.
What about dental care?
As with doctors, you are free to choose your own dentist and you are responsible for the cost unless it is an Accident Compensation Corporation (accident-related) matter.
Cheaper dental services can be available through the University of Otago Dental School, whose website is listed below in the related information section. You will be treated by students under the oversight of their teachers. Phone 03 479 7036.
How will I get dental care for my child?
New Zealand children are entitled to free dental care from birth until the end of school Year 8. If your child is not a resident or citizen, contact your local school dental clinic or the Otago District Health Board, Phone 03 474 0999 or see their website linked below in the related information section, to inquire whether they are eligible.
If they are eligible, they will attend a dental clinic either at their school, or at a nearby school, for regular appointments.
Are there special services targeted at preschool children?
The New Zealand Plunket Society cares for babies, preschool children and their families, offering health and development checks, advice and opportunities to meet other parents. It also offers a child car seat hiring facility. The Plunket website can be found below in the related information section.
Free Well Child Health checks are also provided by several other organisations in Dunedin. The Well Child programme website linked below in the related information area contains contact details and further information about Well Child health checks.
- Shakti Migrant Women’s Refuge (PDF File, 128.4 KB | New window)
- Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) (Link to external website | New window)
- Family Planning (Link to external website | New window)
- Health services for your child (Link to external website | New window)
- Ministry of Health - Healthline (Link to external website | New window)
- Ministry of Heath - High Use Health Card (Link to external website | New window)
- Ministry of Heath - Maternity Information (Link to external website | New window)
- NZ National Poisons Centre (Link to external website | New window)
- Plunket (Link to external website | New window)
- Southern District Health Board (Link to external website | New window)
- University of Otago - Dental School (Link to external website | New window)
- Work and Income - Community Services Card (Link to external website | New window)
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