Your child's doctor and practice nurse

Your child's doctor and practice nurse

In the early years you and your child will need lots of help and advice about sickness and keeping healthy. It is very helpful to have a family doctor and practice nurse who get to know you and your child well.

Key points to remember about your child's doctor and practice nurse

  • it's important to enrol your child with a general practice at birth or as soon as possible after that
  • in the early years you and your child will need lots of help and advice about sickness and keeping healthy

Should I enrol my child with a general practice?

It's important to enrol your child with a general practice at birth or as soon as possible after that.

In the early years, you and your child will need lots of help and advice about sickness and keeping healthy.

It's important to enrol your child with a general practice at birth or as soon as possible after that. The doctor and practice nurse will want to get to know you and your child and give you the help you need – including the first immunisations when your child is 6 weeks old.

It’s easy to enrol and costs nothing. Once your child is enrolled, visits to general practice and after-hours services are usually free until your child is 14 years old.

Most general practices are part of a Primary Health Organisation (PHO). For more information, see the page about PHOs on this website.

How do I find a general practice for my child?

It's important that you enrol your child with a general practice at birth or as soon as possible after that. Enrolling your child early means they can get their first immunisations on time and can get health services if they are needed. Your midwife, the hospital or your Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse will be able to help you to enrol your child with a general practice. See Health Pages for a list of doctors and general practices in your area.

Remember, once you enroll your child with with a general practice, visits to the doctor or practice nurse and the after-hours doctor are usually free until they turn 14 – and so are prescriptions for medicines.

Can my baby have their first immunisations at the general practice?

Enrol your child with a general practice early so that you can take them for their first immunisations at 6 weeks of age.

It's important that you enrol your child with a general practice early so that you can take them for their first immunisations at 6 weeks of age. This is your chance to introduce your baby to their doctor and practice nurse - even if they're perfectly healthy. The visit is usually free.

Immunisation protects your child from some serious but preventable diseases. 

Can I get ongoing care and advice about my child from my doctor and practice nurse?

The doctor and practice nurse are there to provide you with health advice and information and to treat your child if they are sick. Staying with the same general practice means you will get to know your doctor and practice nurse. They will know you and your family well and can offer ongoing support for any health issues. They will also support you if your child needs specialist care or help in using other health services.

Where should I take my child when they are sick?

When your child is sick, take them to the doctor rather than the hospital. If the doctor's practice is closed (for example, at night or on the weekend) and your child is too sick to wait until they open, take them to the local after-hours clinic. You can call Healthline (0800 611 116) to find out where the local after-hours clinic is.

Get help quickly from a doctor or phone 111 within New Zealand (use the appropriate emergency number in other countries) if your child shows any of the baby and child sickness danger signs.

Where can I get extra support for my child?

If you, your child or any whānau members need extra support, your doctor or practice nurse will be able to help you find this. For example, if your child has a disability or special needs, they can contact your local needs assessment service to see what extra help is available.

The content on this page is reproduced from the Ministry of Health website: Your child's doctor and practice nurse.

This page last reviewed 15 April 2019.
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