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Health in Wellington

Living in Wellington you’ll have access to quality modern healthcare for all your family’s needs. New Zealand’s comprehensive healthcare system means access to doctors and hospitals is easy and affordable.

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Family doctors

One of the first things you should do on arrival in Wellington is find a general practitioner (GP), for you and your family. Most New Zealanders have a family doctor who is their main source of health advice and assistance. You can find GPs in most suburbs of Wellington.

GPs can examine, diagnose and write prescriptions for a wide range of medical needs.

If required, GPs will refer you to another healthcare provider or medical specialist. They can also refer you directly to hospital for treatment, if needed.

Generally, you won’t have to wait long to see a GP. Appointments can often be made on the same day, or within a day or two.

If you enrol with a GP you’ll pay a lower consultation fee each time you visit. GP’s are in private practice, meaning they set their own fees, but the government subsidises once you are enrolled.

To help in choosing a family doctor, a full list of registered Wellington GPs can be found at the New Zealand Medical Council.

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Hospital care is free in the public system for residents, and specialists’ treatment is subsidised, however there may be waiting lists for both. Patients may be referred to hospital by a GP, or seek care directly at the Emergency Department. Private hospital care is available at higher cost. Private hospitals provide non-urgent and elective care, and can allow those who can afford it to bypass public waiting lists for surgery.

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Eligibility for healthcare

To be eligible for free healthcare, you need to be a New Zealand citizen, a New Zealand resident, the holder of a two-year work permit, a refugee, or a child under 18 years who is being legally adopted by a New Zealand resident or citizen.

People who are not eligible must pay for the full cost of any medical treatment they receive in New Zealand. Medical staff will ask for legal verification so you must take your passport, visa material or refugee documents with you to a medical facility to prove your eligibility

Interpreting services

Hospitals in Wellington provide a free interpreting service for people who are not able to communicate in English. A request for an interpreter should be made in advance if possible.

Accidents can happen

In New Zealand you cannot sue anyone for compensatory damages if you are injured. Instead, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) covers all injuries whether they are suffered at work, at home, on the road, or playing sport.

ACC claims may also be made for personal injury caused by a medical mistake or error, sexual assault or abuse, and some work-related conditions such as occupational overuse syndrome (OOS).

ACC helps fund or partially fund medical care for injuries and, when necessary, will pay a portion of a person's earnings for the period in which he or she is off work. If the injury is serious and long lasting, a lump sum payment may be made to offset the loss of wages. ACC does not cover illness.