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Public and private health systems

Public and private healthcare systems

New Zealand has both a public and private healthcare system, and both offer high standards of care.

In the public system, essential healthcare services are provided free for all New Zealanders and people in New Zealand on a work permit valid for two years or longer.

Alongside the public system, private healthcare offers access to private hospitals for the treatment of both urgent and non-urgent conditions (excluding Accident and Emergency Care). The network of private hospitals and clinics provides a range of services that include recuperative care, elective procedures and a range of general surgical procedures. There are also private radiology clinics and testing laboratories.

The public system

The government-funded public health system works on a community-oriented model, with three key sectors.

• District Health Boards - District Health Boards (DHBs) are funded by the government and are responsible for providing or funding health and disability services in their district.

• Primary Health Care - Primary health care covers a broad range of out-of-hospital services, although not all of them are government funded. Primary health care includes first level services such as general practice, mobile nursing and community health services.

• PHOs (Primary Health Organisations) - PHOs are the local structures for delivering and co-ordinating primary health care services. PHOs bring together doctors, nurses and other health professionals (such as Māori health workers, health promotion workers) in the community to serve the needs of their enrolled patients.

The private system

Private healthcare in New Zealand includes specialist services, primary care and private hospitals which provide non-urgent and elective treatments that complement the public health service's focus on urgent and essential treatments.

There are also many private accident, emergency and medical clinics that operate in the private sector, often providing services outside the usual hours of doctors and clinics in the public system.

Accident insurance - ACC

Anyone in New Zealand – including visitors – who has had an accident or injury is usually covered by the government’s personal injury scheme known as ACC.

Organised by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), it covers the full range of personal injuries, whether they happen at home, work, or during sport or other leisure activities. ACC helps pay for medical and treatment fees and rehabilitation costs or residential care that are caused by any accident or injury.

Read more about practising medicine in New Zealand

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