Finding the right care this summer

Monday 18 December 2023

With many visitors traveling to popular hot spots in the summer holidays – including Wanaka, Queenstown, Central Otago, the Waitaki valley, Fiordland and our wonderful coastal holiday spots, WellSouth, the Southern Primary Health Organisation (PHO), is urging holiday-makers to find out where to find the right care this summer.

WellSouth Clinical Director, Carol Atmore, says that unexpected accidents and illnesses can happen on holidays and people often just look for the nearest hospital to get help.

“However, this is often not the right care they need, and if you aren’t sure, we are urging people to talk to a health professional before they head to hospital,” she says.

“Some of our rural hospitals don’t have an emergency department and if they do, they have limited capacity, which out of towners may not realise.”

“The best place to start is with phone advice, for example 24 hours a day from HealthLine at 0800 611 116 to help work out what will suit your needs best.


If it’s an emergency, such as a serious accident, always call 111.


"There are also a range of national telehealth providers available out of hours, such as Ka Ora, where people can be triaged by talking to a clinician (nurse, nurse practitioner, general practitioner), often getting the help they need without having to visit a further healthcare provider.


Dr Atmore says you may want to check in with a local pharmacy or general practice, depending on the time of day. “A pharmacist, urgent dentist or physiotherapist may be able to help, and general practices across the district are available during usual business hours, and some have after hours services too. Check to find one of these nearby where you are staying.”


“Sometimes, it’s not physical and people just need to talk to someone. There’s a 24/7 helpline called ‘Need to talk?’ on 1737.”


“By finding the right care at the right time, visitors will have a better experience and it spreads the load of pressure on primary and secondary services, Dr Atmore says.


Rural hospitals with 24/7 emergency departments include Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown and Oamaru Hospital. Please note that Dunstan Hospital in Clyde does NOT have an emergency department.


Information is on the WellSouth website and has been provided to accommodation and tourism providers, tourism operators, seasonal working organisations, businesses and healthcare providers.


Find the information here Need to speak to or see a health professional? Summer 2023/24 » WellSouth.

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