Rural health

One in four New Zealanders live in rural areas or small towns, and there is a greater percentage of children, older people, and Māori living in these areas.

Publicly funded rural health services

Ensuring comprehensive, quality services for people living in rural areas is a priority for the Government.

Publicly funded health services are provided through district health boards (DHBs), primary health organisations (PHOs), and through many rural hospitals throughout New Zealand.

Some of the many services available to New Zealanders living rurally are outlined below.

Mobile services

  • Mobile breast-screening services are provided throughout New Zealand, helping women to get screened and detect cancers early.
  • Mobile oral health clinics provide primary oral health services and support centralised oral health services in many districts throughout New Zealand.
  • Mobile surgical services provide elective day surgeries to many rural communities throughout New Zealand.
  • Psychiatric outreach services and community psychiatric nurses are available in many districts, with Crisis Assessment and Treatment (CAT) teams available throughout the country.
  • The National Travel Assistance scheme provides financial help towards the expenses of people travelling long distances to get specialist care.

In-home services

  • WellChild services provide free parenting advice and help families to monitor the development of their children.
  • Primary maternity services are delivered in the community, supporting women and their families with pregnancy and childbirth.

Telephone helplines and online support

  • Healthline (0800 611 116) is a free service staffed by registered nurses, providing health advice for all New Zealand families, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Kidshealth provides Plain English advice and information for children and teenagers, along with a wide range of resources to assist both children and parents.
  • Let's talk teeth (0800 825 583) is a free service for 0-18 year-olds that provides basic oral health information and referrals to dental practitioners in their area.
  • PlunketLine (0800 933 922) provides free advice on parenting issues and child health and wellbeing to all families, whānau and caregivers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Quitline (0800 778 778) offers free support, resources and low cost nicotine patches, gum and lozenges to New Zealand residents to help them quit smoking. The Quitline website provides similar information and resources. The website provides similar information and resources.
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline (0800 787 787) provides free and confidential support for any person concerned about their own or another person's alcohol or drug use. The Alcohol Drug Association NZ websites (ADANZ and the Addictions Treatment Directory) provide information and a directory of support groups.

In this section

  • The Centre for Rural Health published reports on a number of rural health related topics - success factors for rural health services and community participation; rural teamwork; development of rural nurses and nursing; resources for new or locum rural practitioners; and rural workforce. Read more
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