Healthcare during COVID-19

You can still get health care in Aotearoa New Zealand while COVID-19 is circulating.

Key points about healthcare during COVID-19

  1. Do not hesitate to seek healthcare during COVID-19. There are many systems in place that will help protect you, your whānau and your community against COVID-19.
  2. Healthcare services in Aotearoa New Zealand are still available but may operate differently from what you were used to before COVID-19. 
  3. Your healthcare team will let you know if there are any changes to any of your appointments. 
  4. If you are concerned about any aspect of your health, call your GP or Healthline on 0800 611 116.
  5. If you need urgent medical assistance for severe symptoms or you have a serious injury, call the emergency number 111 or go straight to hospital. 

How to access healthcare

Along with all essential services, health and medical facilities are open. You can still get medical help if you need it. This includes healthcare services, such as Healthline, GPs, cancer services, disability and aged support services.

If you need to see your GP, nurse or other medical professional you MUST phone first.

Some consultations may happen over the phone or by video to stop any risk of COVID-19 spreading by person-to-person contact. This is called telehealth.

Please only call Healthline if you or someone you know feels unwell or you need medical advice, rather than to ask general questions about COVID-19. It's important Healthline is able to answer calls from those who need medical advice. The more people who call asking for general information, the fewer people who need medical advice can get through. There is a dedicated COVID-19 Healthline number to call, 0800 358 5453.

If you cannot get through and are severely unwell, for example if you are having trouble breathing, contact emergency services (call 111).

General practice (GP clinic)

GP clinics are still open but they may be working differently to try and reduce the spread of COVID-19. This means your GP may consult with you via telehealth such as text, email, phone or video call. If you (and all members of your whare/household) do not have COVID-19, you will also be able to see your GP safely in person.

You won't be bothering your GP during this time with your health issues – they are still there for you even if your health needs are not related to COVID-19. 

Your local pharmacy (chemist)

Your community pharmacy does more than just dispense medicines. Community pharmacies offer a range of services to keep you and your family well, including flu vaccinations and some are able to provide COVID-19 antiviral medicines. Read more about antivirals. 

Some pharmacists may also provide advice about your medicines to you via phone. These measures are important to protect you and your whānau against COVID-19. 

Hospitals

Hospitals are open as usual. However, they may be operating differently to protect people from the spread of COVID-19. For example, if you have an elective surgery planned, your surgery may be delayed. 

Your healthcare team will let you know if there are any changes to any of your hospital appointments. 

If you need to visit your family/whānau members or friends in the hospital, there are also extra precautions that you need to take. This includes staying at home and not visiting if you are sick. This is important to help keep other patients, healthcare workers and visitors safe. 

You can find out about any changes and extra precautions from your local Te Whatu Ora website. 

All other health services

Before you visit other health services, they are likely to ask you some questions (in a form, over the phone or at reception) to help protect other patients, healthcare workers and your community against COVID-19. 

If you have any questions prior to you appointment please call ahead and ask.

Non COVID-19 vaccinations

Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your tamariki and your whānau. It is still a priority and is safe despite the COVID-19 situation – especially for new babies. Protect your whānau – vaccinate on time.  

Read more about COVID-19 and vaccinations. 

How do I prepare for a virtual doctor appointment?

Telehealth, virtual healthcare and e-consultations can provide you with health care in a different way. These digital technologies also make it easier for you to get the health care you need if it is difficult for you to travel to your doctor. Read more about telehealth and what you can expect from a telehealth consult. 

Watch the video below to find out how you can prepare for your video consult. 

(Health Navigator NZ, 2020)

How do I take care of my mental health during COVID-19?

Some degree of anxiety is normal as we live with COVID-19. Feeling low or down about restrictions on your normal life is also a normal response. That means it’s more important than ever to know the key steps to managing your mental health. Read more about the support available and ideas for looking after yourself and your whānau throughout this time. 

There are 5 key strategies to help take care of your mental health at this difficult time: 

  • look after your physical wellbeing
  • do the things that boost your mental health
  • avoid the things that harm your mental health
  • know when and how to get help if you need it
  • remember the reason we're all doing this together.

Read more about taking care of your mental health during COVID-19 restrictions.

Learn more

Mental wellbeing Unite against COVID-19, NZ
Covid-19 education Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ

References

  1. Protection framework guidance for allied health services Ministry of Health, NZ, 2021
  2. Management of unvaccinated individuals in healthcare settings MOH, NZ, 2022
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.