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Brought to you by Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora – Southern and WellSouth primary health network

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Emergency care

In the event of a medical emergency, telephone 111 and ask for an ambulance. Alternatively, come directly to your nearest hospital (excluding Dunstan Hospital).

See important emergency information, including about mental health emergencies, poisoning, or if you have been sexually assaulted.

What is a medical emergency?

A medical emergency could be any of the following:

  • Chest pain or tightness

  • Choking

  • Severe pain

  • Head injury

  • Severe bleeding

  • Sudden weakness or difficulty talking (could be a sign of a stroke)

  • Fainting or unconsciousness

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Broken bones

  • Bad burns

In the event of a medical emergency, phone 111 and ask for an ambulance or come directly to your nearest hospital.

Important: Dunstan Hospital does not have a walk-in emergency department. In Central Otago, if it's an emergency, dial 111, and St John will assess whether you need to go to a nearby hospital.


Mental health emergency

In a mental health emergency, phone emergency psychiatric services on 0800 46 78 46

Sexual assault

A specialist sexual assault medical service can make sure you are okay after you have experienced any type of sexual violence and help deal with any concerns you may have about your health.  The Safe to Talk helpline can be accessed free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phone, text, website, online chat and email on:


For information about poisons or in case of poisoning, contact the National Poisons Centre on 0800 764 766, or 0800 POISON

If it is an emergency, go to your nearest Emergency Department

Urgent or after hours care

If you experience bad cuts, bites, sprains or feel really sick and need help quickly, urgent or after hours care is available for urgent medical problems when either your GP is unavailable, or if you feel it’s too urgent to wait for an appointment with your GP.

Visit your GP if you experience conditions such as ear pain, vomiting, tummy aches or backaches, cuts, sprains, or itchy rashes. Typically these issues are generally not considered to be an emergency, but if you don’t think it can wait 24 hours then contact your GP immediately.

Unsure whether you need to visit a doctor? Healthline is a free, 24-hour telephone health advice service. Call 0800 611 116 to speak to a Healthline registered nurse about any concerns about your health or the health of your child.

Going to the emergency department

Upon arrival, you will first be seen by an emergency nurse who will assess your condition and determine how quickly you need to be seen. If you are very ill or injured, you will always be seen first, no matter the order in which you arrive. Children are treated as quickly as possible. Please keep an eye on your children at all times.

Please do not eat or drink anything without the permission of the nurse or doctor you are seeing. We will take as much care with your belongings as possible, but please do not leave any bags or items of value unattended.