General practice is open but changing how patients are seen

23 Mar 2020

As COVID-19 cases are growing across New Zealand, try not to think about the numbers but the precautions. Let’s focus on what we can all do to stay well. We can all make decisions about how we can protect our health and wellbeing - even in the face of COVID-19.

While our general practice teams work hard to manage the evolving COVID-19 situation you will notice changes in the way you are asked to access front-line health services. These changes are necessary to protect our communities and frontline medical staff.

Patients who need face-to-face appointments with their general practice team, will still have access appointments.

GP and nurse telephone triage, patient portals, repeat prescriptions services, email and video consults are already used by many health providers to help patients receive the care they need without having to see their doctor in person.

  • From Monday 23 March this may mean more telephone and video-based consultations and additional text services and being seen in different spaces where necessary.
  • This might mean being seen in a community-based assessment centre or outside your general practice. It might even mean staying inside your car.
The virus spreads by close contact. If someone coughs a virus-droplet on you, or if you touch a surface that has been infected, you could get sick.

That's why if you are sick, you need to stay home. You are less likely to make other people sick. If someone in the next town is sick, or the next street, and they are isolating themselves until they are well, you are not at risk.

Slowing the spread of COVID-19 relies on us all to do simple things.
  • Wash your hands well and often for 20 seconds with soap and water and dry them properly.
  • Stay home if you are sick and keep 2m away from family, don’t share beds or food or cups and clean surfaces you touch well.
  • Cough into your elbow not your hands.
  • Use tissues and throw them away. The wash your hands!
  • If you have flu like symptoms stay home and phone Healthline on 0800 358 5453. They can give you advice or refer you for testing at a place near you.
  • Call your GP for advice but do not come into the practice. This will help everyone stay safe.
  • Get your flu vaccination as soon as you can. Do this! A flue shot won’t stop COVID-19, but it will stop you getting the flu. Flu puts even more unnecessary pressure on our health system, and right now we all need to take responsibility to be as well as we all can be.
Stay calm and breathe – general practice is here for you and we are doing all we can to prepare.

You may also wish to read a statement about the changes on the The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners website.

Continue to monitor for public updates and information.