Specialist health services

Access to specialist health services in the New Zealand public health system is controlled by a process of referral by health practitioners authorised to do so. Usually that is your General Practitioner, but others such as Dentists and Midwives may also refer you on. The only other source of specialist advice is to pay for private consultations from specialists in private practice.

The public health system referral process should get you the consultations you need to diagnose and treat your condition, whatever specialist you need to see - a Paediatrician, a Dietician, an Occupational Therapist, or an assessment by a Cardiac, Respiratory or other health specialist. The referral will be to the specialist clinic at a public hospital and the consultation, and any subsequent laboratory tests, X-rays or scans ordered by the specialist will be free of charge.

Some of the services you might be referred to include:

Genetic Health Service New Zealand (GHSNZ) is a national publically funded service offering clinical genetics care across New Zealand. The service operates out of three hubs – Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland – and provides outreach clinics in around twenty smaller centres. Families meet with geneticists or genetic counsellors to try to identify or better understand genetic diagnoses, and discuss prenatal or pre-symptomatic tests for genetic conditions.

Pregnancy Loss and Counselling Services - for pre-decision counselling or grief counselling after miscarriage. In some areas this is provided as a separate service, in others it should be available through the Social Work department at the hospital. Access is by referral that should be readily offered, but you should feel free to ask if you wish to get this support.

The specialist Metabolic Service at Starship hospital - to deal with some of the complex diseases of the body's biochemical metabolism.

Early Intervention teams - set up in some centres but not all, these may cover areas such as paediatric development, behavioural support, or treatment of first psychotic episodes.

The Child, Adolescent and Family Service - to assist with behavioural or mood problems that may be associated with the condition, and assist the family to cope with such problems.

The Dietetics Service - to provide you with special dietary advice relating to you condition.

The Continence service - which provides advice and information on continence management.

The Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation services (sometimes known as specialist Rehabilitation Services). These are often seen as services for the elderly, but younger adults may also be assessed there for treatments, equipment or support that will maintain function and independence.

James