General practitioners care for, diagnose and treat the health problems of individuals and families in the community. General practitioners treat all common medical conditions and refer patients to hospitals and other medical services for urgent and specialist treatment. They focus on the health of the whole person combining physical, psychological and social aspects of care and often have regular, long-term patients and provide ongoing medical care to both male and female patients in all age groups.
GPs provide a continuous service throughout a person’s life so will be able to advise on the needs of a baby with fever, an old person with memory loss as well as medical and psychological problems that occur at any age. GPs are trained to listen and observe and able to pick up symptoms that you may have missed, then work with you to improve matters.
The role of a family doctor includes:
- Monitoring health to prevent illnesses arising
- Diagnosis and treatment of health problems
- Organising blood testing, X-rays and other diagnostic tests
- Prescribing medicines and treatment regimes
- Undertaking minor surgery
- Referrals to other health providers such as physiotherapists
- Referrals to specialists such as surgeons, pediatricians, gynecologists
- Referring you for hospital treatment
- Helping to arrange assistance or payments from ACC or welfare organisations such as Work and Income (WINZ)
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”George Eliot
When should I see a general practitioner?
If you are feeling unwell and need help, the first port of call is your family doctor – except in an emergency situation when you might need to call an ambulance (dial 111) or visit the accident and emergency department of your local hospital.
It is generally recommended you see your doctor once or twice a year for a general health check-up to monitor conditions such as blood pressure and cholesterol; and, depending on your age and sex, checking the health of prostate, breasts, cervix and etc.