When to see a nurse instead of a GP

Depending on what your healthcare need is, making an appointment with a nurse may be a more suitable option than seeing your GP.

Primary care nurses

Most medical centres in New Zealand have primary care nurses working alongside GPs who play a key role in educating you and your whānau about your health and wellbeing. It’s a good idea to book an appointment with a primary care nurse if you need advice about:

  • managing your diabetes
  • weight-loss
  • asthma management
  • blood pressure management
  • wound care
  • quitting smoking.

A nurse can also help you with:

  • routine childhood immunisations
  • other immunisations, for e.g. flu vaccine or shingles vaccine
  • organising blood tests
  • organising appointments
  • minor cuts and scrapes.

Nurse practitioners

Nurse practitioners are highly-skilled nurses who have advanced education and clinical training and have completed their master’s degree. They often work in rural areas and underserved communities to ensure all people in New Zealand have access to healthcare.

Some nurse practitioners run their own clinics and can diagnose, order tests and prescribe treatments and medications. If you have a nurse practitioner in your area you can book an appointment with them as you do your GP.

Healthline nurses

Healthline is also a telephone service run by registered nurses who you can call if you need advice if you or your whānau are feeling unwell or you’re not sure if you should see a doctor.

Plunket nurses

Plunket nurses provide free support for families with children under the age of 5 through home visits, mobile clinics and PlunketLine. Plunket nurses can help you with issues such as:

  • your baby’s growth and development
  • toilet training
  • sleeping and feeding
  • tips for managing your child’s behaviour
  • breastfeeding
  • starting solids
  • childhood nutrition.

Most visits with a Plunket nurse are pre-scheduled and depend on your child’s age, but additional support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling PlunketLine on 0800 933 922. You can visit the Plunket website to find out about other support it offers.

Learn more

Nurse practitioners New Zealand Ministry of Health
Plunket nurses Plunket