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Needing a prescription for your regular medicines?

Monday 20 April 2020Health news4 minutes to read

People needing regular ongoing prescriptions can be reassured these are still available by ringing their general practice, and the medicines are available one month at a time through pharmacies,” Primary Health Organisation Executive Officer Helen Reriti says.

“It’s not unusual for those taking regular medicines to feel anxious about the continuity of medicine supply during the current COVID-19 situation.

“Ongoing regular prescriptions continue to be provided by our general practice teams – we do ask that people don’t ask for prescriptions unless they are due for renewal as there is no need to stockpile medications.  We all have a role to play in keeping medicines available for our community.”

The Government agency responsible for deciding which medicines and medical devices are funded in New Zealand – PHARMAC, along with West Coast pharmacies and suppliers – are continuing to work closely together to maintain a continuous supply. 

PHARMAC has advised pharmacies to dispense only one month’s supply at a time for all medicines.

“There are no changes to either how prescriptions are written at your general practice, or how prescriptions are charged at the pharmacy.  You won’t need to visit your general practice team more frequently, it just means that your usual 3-month prescription is available once a month for three months, managed by the pharmacy.  The medicine label will say if there are repeats (your second and third monthly supplies) available.  You can phone the pharmacy to make arrangements for collection or delivery of these repeats,” Mrs Reriti says.

For anyone wanting to read more, here’s some information from Healthinfo and PHARMAC.

All West Coast general practices remain open for business during the current nationwide COVID-19 Alert Level 4. Although the majority of appointments are now being done virtually by phone, email, text or video it is important that people who need to come in for a face-to-face consultation do so.

Please call your general practice or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 – high temperature (at least 38°C), cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, sneezing and runny nose, temporary loss of smell.  These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. The symptoms are like other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu. Shortness of breath is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

If you are unwell, please do not go directly to a pharmacy, general practice or emergency department – ring your general practice team for advice.

For anyone who is feeling stressed and anxious or who needs some advice, then there are places you can CALL for more support, listed below:

  • Phone or text 1737 to be put through to a trained counsellor any time of the day or night. This is a free service for everyone.
  • Your General Practice or rural clinic – contact details here on the DHB website and here on the West Coast Primary Health Organisation website.
  • Poutini Waiora (Māori Health and Social Service) – 0800 333 170
  • Crisis Response (24/7) – 0800 757 678
  • Youthline – 0800 376 633
  • Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
  • Your employer, through the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

Free online mental wellbeing resources

There are a number of free online apps, toolkits, and other digital resources available to help New Zealanders look after their mental wellbeing.

  • Getting Through Together – tips and advice on how to cope with the stress of COVID-19.
  • Sparklers at Home – a resource for parents to talk with their primary-school-aged children about their mental health and wellbeing.
  • Mentemia – practical tips and techniques to help you take control of your mental wellbeing. 
  • Melon – provides a health journal, resources and self-awareness tools to help you manage your emotional wellbeing.
  • Staying on Track – this online course teaches practical strategies to cope with the stress and disruption to everyday life from COVID-19.

Remember, it’s important to seek immediate help in an emergency – don’t delay.  If you are injured or experiencing severe symptoms it’s critical that you still call 111.



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Page last updated: 20 April 2020

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