News and Notices

Health responds to natural disaster in Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough

Free General Practice visits for flood related healthcare, including mental health

Free Pharmacy dispensing for flood related health treatment

Health navigators available to provide assistance navigating health and social needs

Keep up work to prevent infections, wash hands, care with water supplies, wear masks and keep away from others if unwell

Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand, Nelson Marlborough is proud of the emergency response in the wake of the severe weather event in the District.

Health Incident Controller, Hilary Exton said, “It is a privilege to be part of such a well-connected community, which comes together in times of need.”

“Civil Defence in Nelson Tasman and the Marlborough District Council have a done an amazing job at keeping the community safe and informed as homes were evacuated and infrastructure severely damaged.”

“Our Health incident management team which incorporates our Primary Health Organisations, Te Piki Oranga, St John and community and hospital services, has enabled us to give a coordinated response and escalate needs as they arise.”

“In response, emergency measures have enabled Pharmacy to provide some regular medications without a prescription for those affected by the flooding and unable to access scripts or medications. Pharmacy dispensing for flood related health treatment is also being funded free to those in need.”

“Approval has also been granted for free General Practice visits for flood related healthcare, including up to three primary mental health consultations. Health navigators are also available through general practice to provide assistance navigating health and social needs.”

“We know that experiencing a disaster can be overwhelming and that everyone reacts differently. We are preparing for an ongoing mental wellbeing and resilience response.”


Dr Nick Baker, Chief Medical Officer said, “Over the next few days it will be really important to keep our focus on the normal routines that keep us safe.”

“Hand hygiene, which has been critical to our COVID-19 defence, now shows its benefits in terms of keeping us safe from water contaminants that could lead to gastrointestinal illness.”

“Our Medical Officers of Health have advised people to treat all floodwater as contaminated, and for people on their own water supply’s, who have been impacted by flooding, to boil their water.”

“Iwi have placed a rāhui (taboo) on the gathering of seafood and kai as well as swimming and entering the water across the entire northern coastline of Te Tauihu o Te Waka-a-Māui (Top of the South).”

“Pharmacies, General Practice and Emergency Departments are prepared for increased concerns around gastrointestinal illnesses and skin infections which may occur from direct contact with sewage affected water.”

“Mask wearing and distancing are much harder when we are away from normal routine, but still very important for preventing and managing winter bugs including COVID-19. It remains important to stay away from others when you are unwell with tummy bugs and respiratory symptoms.”

“But staying away doesn’t mean being isolated. Stay connected via phone or technology to your health services and whānau. Our integrated care hubs are phoning those most vulnerable in our community and we are using phone and tele-health appointments to offer support.”

“If you have a long term condition, are away from home and cannot get to your usual medications or normal prescriber, pharmacies can give to up to 30 days supply. This only applies to your regular repeating medications and cannot be done for any medications subject to special controls including controlled drugs.”

“Everyone reacts differently during a disaster, some people may never have a reaction, others may have a delayed reaction that shows up days, weeks or even months after the disaster happens. Be sure to talk to someone about how you are feeling. You can free call 1737 to speak to a trained counsellor and check in with your primary care mental health team.” 


Pat Davidsen, General Manager Clinical Services said, “Healthcare needs don’t stop during an emergency and nor do we. Our hospital and health services remain open.”

“Travel between Nelson and Wairau hospital has been impacted which is resulting in some changes to appointments as staff or patient travel cannot take place.”

“If you can safely come to appointments please do so. If it is not safe, please stay at home and let us know you are unable to attend, by reaching out via the phone number on your appointment letter or contacting the hospital and asking for the relevant department.”

“Our administration team have been busy contacting people during the weekend. If you haven’t heard from us, then your appointment or procedure is going ahead as planned. If there is a change, we will contact you.”

Thank you to those who have answered and been flexible, for example shifting appointments as telephone or video link, this is greatly appreciated.”