Have any health concerns you would usually see your family doctor about? Get in touch with your GP as normal, irrespective of the lockdown, that’s the message coming from Bay of Plenty GPs.

Local general practices and health organisations are strongly urging people to get in touch with their family doctor and health service providers with any health issues as they usually would. 

Since the lockdown there has been a decline in patients contacting their local practices, a trend that is concerning said General Manager of Practice Services at Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation (WBOPPHO) Phil Back. 

“It is concerning because it likely means that people are holding back from making contact with their doctor about health matters, which could result in conditions worsening,” said Phil.

The same was being seen in the Eastern Bay, said Eastern Bay Primary Health Association (EBPHA) Clinical Director Rachel Shouler.

“Practices are open, offering normal services and available to deal with all health issues,” said Rachel. “We need to be looking after ourselves through this lockdown and beyond, so putting off calling the doctor isn’t the answer.”

Some practices are now calling patients they know to have chronic health conditions to ensure they are doing okay. 

Practices are operating based on advice and health guidelines designed to keep patients safe. All are asking patients to get in touch by phone in the first instance so that doctors can triage cases. Next steps are then advised. 

“General practices are there to attend to all health concerns and wellbeing issues – whether they be acute or exacerbated long-term conditions,” said Phil Back. 

“We are also urging people to apply for a Community Services Card from Work and Income if their financial circumstances have changed, such as loss of income. 

“This card will ensure your healthcare is subsidised and therefore cheaper for you.”

Click here to find out more about the Community Services Card: https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/community-services-card.html

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners has published some FAQs on this subject on its website. To access them go to: