Helping you access healthcare
The Refugee Health Service is here to make sure you have access to the healthcare you need.
If you are a former refugee living in the Christchurch or Ashburton areas, we can assist you in connecting with local health services, such as:
- Finding a doctor or General Practice (GP) for your healthcare
- Helping with understanding your right to free medical check-ups
- Providing information about your eligibility for free healthcare services.
Free medical help for your first five years
To access healthcare in New Zealand, you need to enrol at a General Practice (GP). It is free to enrol, and as a new resident, you may be able to receive free visits for up to five years. This includes help with:
- Signing up with a General Practice
- Before-school health checks for children
- Vaccines to keep you healthy
- Women’s health screenings, like cervical and breast screening
- Pharmacy, to get medication
- Laboratories, to get blood tests done
- Maternity care, to find a midwife
- Optometry, for eye checks and glasses
- Dental care, finding a dentist
- Wellbeing and mental health services
- Other health related support as needed.
If you do not speak English
You have the right to get a free and confidential professional interpreter for your health appointments. Just ask the receptionist when you book your appointment, or download one of these language cards to help you with this.
Who can get free visits?
You can access free GP or nurse visits if you arrived in New Zealand as a:
- quota refugee
- family support or reunification refugee
- community sponsorship refugee
- convention refugee
- asylum seeker, with a letter of acknowledgement of your application.
You’ll also need to:
- have been in New Zealand as a refugee for less than five years
- have a valid Community Services Card
- be enrolled with a Christchurch or Ashburton practice
- be at least 14 years old.
Children under 14 do not have to pay to see a GP or nurse under the Zero fees for under-14s scheme.
How to enrol with a GP?
Find a GP that makes you feel comfortable. You can change if you need to, without any cost. To find a Pegasus Health GP practice in your area, visit our GP Locator
Bring important documents with you to the GP practice. This includes:
- Your Immigration New Zealand letter or Immigration and Protection Tribunal letter to prove your refugee status and show that you’ve been in New Zealand for less than five years. The Refugee Health Service can help you to confirm the status
- Your passport or Certificate of Identity
- Your valid Community Services Card.
When you might pay
Even if you’re eligible for free visits, there might be some costs like:
- Certain treatments not included in the visit
- Prescription fees at the pharmacy for medication.
Always feel free to ask how much things will cost. If cost is a problem, let your GP or nurse know. Or contact us; we can talk about it and find a way to help. Free call 0800 757 135 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
There may be more help available for other health costs, like dental care and glasses. Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) can talk with you about this and organise an interpreter if you need one.
For more information and help
If you need a doctor or are looking for more resources, check out these benefits of registering with a GP
Remember, your health matters, and the Refugee Health Service is dedicated to ensuring you receive the care and support you need. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help.