It can be hard to know the best place to get help with your health, because it depends on how urgently you need help and the type of help you need. Here’s a guide to help you through the health maze.
Where can I get help with my health?
For urgent help in an emergency when you or someone else needs medical attention right now, phone 111 and ask for an ambulance. Urgent help is needed for things like chest pain, difficulty breathing, fainting or unconsciousness (not being awake) and severe bleeding or bleeding that won’t stop.
If someone has had an accident or is very unwell, but the situation is not life threatening, go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Centre. This is a good place to go if you think you’ve broken a bone, have a wound and are bleeding but not severely, or feel really sick.
If it is not an emergency, but you have a question about your health, contact your family doctor (GP) or practice nurse. You can find a family doctor or medical clinic (and see their prices) at Healthpoint. It’s best to enrol with a general practice because then your care is subsidised, which makes it cheaper for you.
GPs are skilled in diagnosis especially at an early stage of a condition. They also know when and where to refer you if you require further investigations or treatment. A GP can therefore recognise, advise, treat or refer patients with any medical or emotional condition. You might got to them for advice about a health condition, contraception, mental health worries and so on.
Practice nurses provide a range of services including immunisations, wound care and chronic disease management.
Preparing can help you get the best out of a visit to your doctor. Read about how to get the most out of your doctor's visit
If it is not an emergency but after hours and you can’t get to your GP during working hours, or you think it might be important to see a doctor sooner, or you are out of town or haven’t yet registered with a GP, go to your nearest after-hours service. You can find your nearest one (and see their prices) at Healthpoint. They can help you with the same things as GPs and practice nurses.
If you have a health problem and are not sure what to do, phone Healthline 0800 611 116 free at any time of the day or night to speak to a trained nurse. They can advise you what action you need to take. If English isn’t your first language, there are interpreters who can help.
To get a prescription for medicine filled, go to your nearest pharmacy. If you have questions about your medication, ask your pharmacist. Pharmacists can also provide advice and treatment on common concerns. Here are some good questions to ask about your medicine.
If you need 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.
If you want some mental health support, text or call 1737 for free at any time to talk to a trained counsellor. There are lots of other options as well for help with your mental health and wellbeing.
If you want online health information, go to Health Navigator. See Health A–Z for information about specific health conditions, Medications for advice about medicines and Healthy living for tips on healthy eating, exercise, managing long-term conditions and much more. There is also a wide selection of videos and a growing app library.