How to access healthcare and emergency services

How to get medical advice, health services and emergency services at the different Alert Levels.

In an emergency

If you need urgent medical assistance for severe symptoms of any kind, or have a serious injury, call emergency services on 111, or go straight to hospital.

When to get medical advice

General health advice

If you are concerned about any aspect of your health, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116. All calls to Healthline are free and someone is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Children

If you have questions about your child or baby’s health or wellbeing call Plunketline on 0800 933 922 and speak to a Plunket nurse. Plunketline runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Emergency services at all Alert Levels

Emergency services will operate at all Alert Levels.

If there is an emergency, follow the usual emergency guidelines or advice from emergency authorities. Your safety comes first.

Once you are safe, then take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as physically distancing or wearing a face covering.

If there is a threat to your life or property, always dial 111 and ask for Police, Fire or Ambulance.

Information about what to do in an emergency

Precautions in healthcare facilities

At all Alert Levels healthcare facilities and businesses will take precautions against the risk of COVID-19 transmission. These can include:

  • risk screening on arrival
  • contact tracing 
  • providing services over the phone or online if you have any symptoms
  • asking you to wear a face covering while visiting the healthcare facility.

When accessing healthcare, you must take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • physical distancing
  • wash or sanitise your hands
  • keep track of where you have been
  • wear a face covering, where possible.

Cancer care and screening services

Cancer centres around the country are continuing to deliver essential cancer services at all Alert Levels.

At Level 4 , cancer centres must follow the physical distancing guidelines which may impact how treatment is delivered. It is extremely important that we protect people living with cancer from the risk of catching COVID-19.

Te Aho o Te Kahu, New Zealand's Cancer Control Agency, provides more information about Cancer care during COVID-19.

Learn more about Cancer care during Alert Levels 1-4 (external link)

Routine screening will be paused for breast and cervical screening services. Bowel screening will continue.

More information about bowel, breast and cervical screening (external link)

Antenatal and newborn screening services will continue to be provided but with some changes to ensure the ongoing safety of women and babies.

National Screening Unit (external link)

Healthcare at Alert Level 1

Healthcare and disability services will run as normal at Alert Level 1.

Health and disability services at Alert Level 1 | health.govt.nz (external link)

Healthcare at Alert Level 2

At Alert Level 2, where possible health and disability services will open and operate as normal.

Emergency care is still available, but some appointments will move to online or over the phone where possible. Some non-urgent services or treatment may be rescheduled.

Community health services and screening services will continue.

Disability and aged care services continue under Alert Level 2, with extra consideration given to how at-risk people are.

Health and disability services at Alert Level 2 | health.govt.nz (external link)

Healthcare at Alert Level 3

At Alert Level 3, we need to restrict our movements. You should only leave your home for essential personal movement, such as accessing healthcare. Healthcare services will open and operate normally, where possible.

Healthcare businesses, such as pharmacies, can open.

Hospitals will remain open for emergency care. Some non-urgent services or treatment may be rescheduled.

When visiting a healthcare facility at Alert Level 3, you must wear a face covering.

Any appointments with a medical professional will need to be online or over the phone, where possible.

Community health services and screening services can continue.

Some disability and aged care services can continue but will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Health and disability services at Alert Level 3 | health.govt.nz (external link)

Healthcare at Alert Level 4

At Alert Level 4, you can only leave your house for essential personal movements, for example accessing healthcare like GPs, cancer services, disability and aged support services.

Healthcare facilities will open and operate, where possible. You can access the treatments and medicines that you need to stay well.

Minor health issues can become more serious if ignored and it is important that you have the treatments and medications you need. Do not delay seeking help for any health needs at any Alert Level.

For other health services such as physiotherapists, dietitians and dentists, call to confirm whether appointments will be available in person, by phone or online. 

If you need medical assistance, phone your doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 first. You can travel to a healthcare facility, but it is recommended you call the facility before you go, so you know what to do when you get there. For example, you might need to use a certain entrance, or to wait outside in your car until called.

Most consultations will happen over the phone or by videoconference to stop any risk of COVID-19 spreading by person-to-person contact.

Health and disability services at Alert Level 4 | health.govt.nz (external link)

Getting routine care and repeat prescriptions

Call your doctor if you need a routine appointment or a repeat prescription for your regular medication. Your doctor can set up an appointment online or over the phone.

Pharmacies will open, even in Alert Level 4. If you need to go to your local pharmacy for medication, call them first to make sure you can go instore.

If you are an at-risk group you may want to ask someone to pick up your medications for you.

Disability and aged care

At Alert Level 4, disability and aged care services will continue. Some home help may be available if it can be accessed safely.

Carers are permitted to work at Alert Level 4. If you are a carer travelling to provide care or support for a person who is in a critical or terminal condition, we recommend you carry proof of your travel. This can include a letter from a medical professional confirming there is a person who needs urgent care or support and your destination.

If you are due to give birth during Alert Level 4

At Alert Level 4, health services will continue to operate. However, there may be some changes to the way you receive medical care if you are pregnant or have recently given birth. Contact your midwife or doctor if you have any concerns.

When you give birth, maternity facilities may have restrictions on the number of visitors and support people you can have with you.

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