Questions and answers

Why are GPs shutting in a crisis?

They’re not – patients requiring in person GP appointments will still get them, but non-urgent, routine appointments will be done via other means if possible. GPs are working differently to try and reduce the spread of COVID, which means conducting non-urgent appointments by text, email, phone or video.

Why can’t I see my doctor?

You can still see your doctor – just in a different way. From Monday, 23 March, GPs are moving to phone, text, email, and video consolations for non-urgent appointments so that we can reduce the number of people in clinics, which helps reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Will I still have to pay for my appointment?

Your appointment will be treated the same as if you were in the clinic so normal charges will apply. Chat to your usual GP clinic if you’re not sure about costs.

Can I casually email or call my GP anytime?

No, you’ll need to make an appointment just like normal. Call your usual GP clinic or use your patient portal to set that up.

How will I get a prescription?

If you need medicine prescribed, then your GP will tell you that during your appointment and can send your prescription straight to the pharmacy that best suits you. You can let them know during the appointment where that is.

Why have these changes been made?

These changes were made in response to COVID-19 and the need to help reduce it’s spread.

Who told GPs to make these changes?

We did – as the membership organisation for GPs. We work closely with the Ministry of Health. The decision is made on emerging information from overseas and is supported by the Ministry of Health.

Are all GP practices doing this now or just some of them?

All GPs have been asked to move to this way of working from Monday, 23 March. It will take time for some practices to make this available but we are encouraging GPs to start this as soon as they can.

What should I do if I’ve already booked an appointment this week?

Your practice may call you. Otherwise give your GP practice a call and check in to see whether they still want you to come in or whether your appointment will now be by phone, email, or video.

How do I know if the person talking to me is really a doctor?

They will identify themselves when they call you. If you’re unsure still you can check on the Medical Council of New Zealand website

Can I still get my flu jab?

Yes you can – call your GP clinic as normal and they’ll let you know how this will happen. For example, you might need to stay in your car and have the flu jab there, the practice may use a different area of the practice or a local building if available.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

Your first call should be to the Healthline COVID-19 number on 0800 358 5453. Do not visit your GP unannounced – you need to alert them first and they will tell you what to do.

How will my doctor take my blood pressure?

Your GP clinic will talk to you over the phone about how this will work. Visits in person will still be required for some health issues and these will be arranged for you.

I’m over 70 and am not allowed to leave home – how can I see my GP?

Call them first and then if they need to see you at the clinic, come in. GPs care deeply about looking after your health and have the most up to date information from the Ministry of Health. Your GP will make sure you are safe when you visit them.

Can I just turn up at my local medical centre to get seen?

No. You need to call first so that the clinic can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep everyone safe and healthy.

Will I have to undress for my doctor on camera?

Your doctor will advise what you need to do in your appointment. Your appointment will be a private consultation between you and your GP – just as you would expect if you were in the clinic. In some cases, you may still need to come in and your GP will advise you about how that will work.

Will my consultation be recorded?

Your GP will take notes for your patient file, which is what they would also do if you saw them in person. They won’t be recording any video sessions.

How will I talk to my GP if I don’t have video calling set up?

You don’t need a video set up. You can talk by phone or chat via email – when you call to make an appointment your local clinic will help you work out what suits you best.

Can I share this information or copy and paste it for my own website?

Yes. Please either link back to us or copy the questions and answers you need word for word. Please attribute it to The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.