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HealthInfo Aoraki-South Canterbury


Everyone who lives in South Canterbury 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. They will also be able to book an appointment for you with your GP or practice nurse.

For general practices currently taking new patients, phone Primary and Community Services on (03) 687‑2307.

To find the contact details and fee schedule for a general practice see South Canterbury DHB – Finding a GP.

What GPs do

A GP is a doctor who looks after the health of people of all ages. They mostly work at medical centres. But they also work in after-hours clinics.

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. GPs are part of the community medical team who all work together to look after you and your family's wellbeing. Other members of the community medical team include dietitians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, practice nurses, pharmacists and optometrists.

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 high blood pressure 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.

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.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. 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: 172957

Review key: HIGPS-132164