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HealthInfo West Coast-Te Tai Poutini


Everyone who lives on the West Coast should enrol with a general practice. Unless it's an emergency (when you should call 111), your GP should be your first point of contact for health advice or care.

If you or someone in your family is sick, make your GP your first call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Even after hours a nurse is available to give free health advice. Just phone your usual general practice number. The nurse will be able to offer advice, or suggest you attend the after-hours clinic or emergency department.

If you need help finding a general practice near you, use this general practice map.

What GPs do

A GP is a doctor who looks after the health of people of all ages. They can deal with many medical problems and will refer you to the hospital if needed. Your GP can get to know you and your family over time and help to look after your health needs.

Your GP is the doctor to see if you have a new illness or any concerns about your health. They will also care for your ongoing health needs if you have a long-term condition such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or diabetes.

Some GPs offer virtual consultations as well as face-to-face consultations.

Qualifications and training

Doctors in New Zealand must complete a six-year medical degree. After graduation, they must work for another two years to gain further training both in hospitals and the community.

GPs must also complete a three-year training programme in general practice. After completing the training programme and exams, they gain the Fellowship of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners qualification.

GPs from overseas must have an international postgraduate medical qualification in general practice that is recognised by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.


After-hours care is different for different GP practices and rural clinics. Ask at your practice or clinic what after-hours help is available. You can phone your general practice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You have to pay for a visit to an after-hours clinic. The cost depends on the time of day, your age, and if you need treatment due to an accident.

Emergency department

If you are very unwell or have a life-threatening illness, the Emergency Department provides emergency and life-saving care.

Where to go

If you are unsure then ring your normal GP phone number any time, day or night. A nurse will be able to give you advice about where you should go to get the medical care that you need. In an emergency call 111.

On the next page: Seeing another GP

Information provided by the Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed June 2021.


See also:

Emergency & after-hours medical help

Funding schemes at your general practice

Preparing for your doctor's visit

Zero fees for under-14s

Page reference: 208622

Review key: HIGPS-132164