Adult and Child Medical Care
Your GP’s surgery is far more than a place to go when you are feeling unwell and needing a quick cure. The doctor who sees you has gone through an extensive medical training to equip her or him to help children and adults of all ages with a range of physical and emotional difficulties. GPs are at the centre of the healthcare hub and will be aware of services and expertise that are available locally and further-a-field. GPs are also aware of the link that stress and unhappy life events have on physical health so know when to suggest a talking therapy rather than medication.
Minor Accident Care
Primary care practices offer a range of services and are able to deal with most minor accident care. If they are not able to deal with an injury they will refer on to the appropriate service.
Minor surgery is commonly provided in primary care practices, providing fast, competent removal and biopsies of skin lesions. Other services include cosmetic work such as removal of benign moles and skin tags. Ingrown toenail surgery is also commonly provided.
These conditions do not need to be referred to a hospital, perhaps saving you a long wait or a cancelled appointment when a more serious case takes priority.
If your doctor is unable to provide the procedure you need, he/she may know a neighbouring GP who does. Otherwise, the PHO will have a list of GPs trained in particular operations.
Each GP surgery or primary care practice will have its own procedure for repeat prescribing but the following rules are common to most, if not all. Patients who are well-known to the practice who have a stable condition like asthma, hypertension or diabetes could be allowed to get a repeat prescription for up to six months. Repeat prescriptions are never given to patients who are not known to the practice and there is probably a blanket ban on repeats for narcotics and other drugs that could be misused as doctors are expected to monitor these drugs carefully.
Sometimes your doctor needs to take a sample of blood or urine either to discover what is wrong with you or to measure something in your blood so that the right medication is given to you. These tests could be anything from blood sugar to a full blood count or a sample of tissue to test for cancer.
While urine can generally be tested in the surgery, blood and other specimens are usually sent away for testing at a laboratory. Most results come back within 48 hours unless a very rare test is needed which has to go to a specialist lab further away when it might take a little longer.
Liquid nitrogen is a fast, effective treatment provided in many practices to treat viral warts, sun damaged skin, skin tags and many benign cosmetic lesions. It comes in a container with a nozzle and is usually applied by swab or spray. Often one treatment is all that is needed but sometimes it may need repeating after two weeks.
Because it cannot be stored for too long, you will often find that your GP will treat a number of patients one after the other.
Immunisations are provided at all primary care practices and are one of the most important services they provide. Immunisation has led to the decline of many lethal diseases including, most recently, meningococcal B meningitis.
The National Immunisation Schedule offers a series of vaccines free to babies, children, adolescents and adults. Visit the Ministry of Health website http://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/preventative-health-wellness/immunisation/new-zealand-immunisation-schedule to find out what vaccines are on the Schedule and when they are given. Additional vaccines are provided free for certain eligible groups considered to be at high risk because of other medical conditions; find out more here http://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/preventative-health-wellness/immunisation/new-zealand-immunisation-schedule. These and other vaccines such as travel vaccines can be purchased by other people if they want them.
Immunisations are given by a practice nurse or doctor, having ensured beforehand that the person is not ill or suffering from allergies. Risks associated with immunisation are very rare.
Children have their own document to keep a record of these injections. Under the age of 5 this is usually their Well Child/Tamariki Ora My Health Book. The immunisation record may need to be shown, for example, when starting school or early childcare. The staff will also record the immunisation details on New Zealand’s National Immunisation Register. This computerised information system holds details of all immunisations given to children here and will alert families when immunisations are due.
All women who have ever been sexually active should have regular cervical smear tests every three years between the ages of 20 and 70. This includes women who have been immunised against HPV. This test detects abnormal cells which, if left untreated, could become cervical cancer. Very often these cells are made abnormal by a human papillomavirus (HPV) which is a sexually transmitted virus. Regular tests and treatment reduces the likelihood of this sort of cancer by around 90%.
For more information about cervical smear tests click on the link to the National Screening Unit website http://www.nsu.govt.nz/current-nsu-programmes/national-cervical-screening-programme.aspx
An ECG is a recording of your heart’s electrical activity. Electrode patches are attached to your skin to measure the electrical impulses given off by your heart. The result is a trace that can be read by a doctor. It can give information of previous heart attacks or problems with the heart rhythm.
Spirometry is a tool that measures how effectively your lungs are working. It is able to show how much air lungs are able to hold (their volume) and how much air can be breathed in and out (inhaled and exhaled) which is called flow. This tool is used to assess damage caused by conditions like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – a group that includes bronchitis and emphysema), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis and asthma. Results are shown on a graph called a pneumotachograph.
For more information click on the following link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirometry
Travel Advice / Immunisations
Another service offered to you at your GP surgery (primary care practice) is advice and immunisation before you go to another country. While you are likely to have the immunisations needed to live in New Zealand, there may be other injections you need to protect yourself before going for example to Africa or South America. In some places you will need protection from rabies or malaria. Yellow fever vaccinations are only available at approved centres; please click here to view the centres in the Auckland region. Your doctor will be able to tell you what diseases you will need to be protected from in any named country and advise you on other medical matters.
Well Child/Tamariki Ora Health Checks – Birth to Three Years
All New Zealand children are entitled to 11 free health checks from birth to three years. The checks aim to ensure that children are growing and developing as well as possible. Included in the checks are clinical assessment, health education and family/whanau support.
Baby checks are at birth and then at 24 hours, five days and around 2-4 weeks. Babies are weighed and measured to ensure that they are developing correctly. These sessions provide a great opportunity for parents to ask questions from an expert and have any problem addressed; difficulties with breastfeeding or sleep for example. They can also be used to discuss immunisations and vaccinations. These checks will be carried out by your lead maternity carer (LMC).
Between the ages of 4-6 weeks and three years, there are seven core health checks available, typically these are around 4-6 weeks, 8-10 weeks, 3-4 months, 5-7 months, 9-12 months, 15-18 months and 2-3 years. These checks may be carried out by a Well Child Provider of your choice e.g. Plunket, Maori health provider, community nurse, a general practice team (doctor and practice nurse). Your LMC will be able to give you a list of Well Child Providers in your area.
More information about Well Child services is available on the Ministry of Health website.