For Patients and Consumers

For Patients and Consumers
Hospital, primary care and mental health service information

Helpful Information - A-Z

Accommodation / Te Whare Whānau

Information pamphlets are found at the Enquiries Desk, Dunedin Hospital and on the wards at Wakari Hospital. Hospital social workers are available to assist. See specific hospitals for further information.



Let us know before you come to hospital if you have a cold or flu symptoms, vomiting or diarrhoea.

Note: if your admission is an emergency this will be processed by the relevant Emergency Department.

What to Bring with You to Hospital

  • Warm comfortable nightwear, dressing gown, slippers and comfortable day clothes, including shoes and socks. Bring any equipment that you use to help dress yourself.
  • Toiletries, brush and comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, shaving gear, sanitary pads, tampons and tissues.
  • Any equipment that aids you, i.e. glasses, hearing aids, walking sticks or frames etc.
  • Any medications you are taking.

All personal belongings brought into the hospital by you are at your own risk. This includes any personal items. Southern DHB will not accept responsibility for any items that go missing while you are in hospital. Please ensure items are named where possible and arrange for your clothes to be laundered.


Advance Directives

We will always discuss your medical treatment options with you if we can. If we cannot, e.g. because you are unconscious or have become too unwell, we will try to make the best decision for you.

If we have a good chance of saving your life and restoring you to good health we will always do everything possible.

If the outcome is less certain, then doctors and nurses will use their judgement to decide for you what most people would want in the circumstances. You can make specific health care choices in advance, however, by completing an advance directive. An advance directive greatly assists staff by giving them a clear idea of what you want in certain serious situations, should you become too unwell to make decisions.

If you would like to include an advance directive in your clinical record, our Patient Affairs staff are available to assist you. If possible, always discuss things with someone you trust, who can convey your wishes in case of doubt.



The Health and Disability Advocacy service is a free and confidential service available to all consumers. This service is independent of Southern DHB. Advocates are there to assist consumers to ensure their rights are respected.

If you have a concern about the care you are receiving contact:



All treatment and procedures will be explained to you by members of staff. It is very important you understand what is happening. Please ask questions if you are uncertain.



We need to know what needs you have so these can be met while you are in hospital. This includes any involvement or care given by a carer or family (whānau).


Discharge and Transport

Discharge is planned by your service. Please discuss these arrangements with your nurse.

Mental Health discharge can take place at any time by arrangement with the family (whānau).

Please let us know, as soon as possible during your admission, if you have any concerns about going home, e.g.

  • No one is available to care for you.
  • If you feel you are no longer managing at home.

If you have been admitted from another hospital it is expected that you make your own arrangements to return home.

The Ministry of Health administers funds available for transport for distance patients. For further information telephone:

  • Freephone 0800 281 222.

The hospital doctor in charge of your care will contact your GP following discharge with details of your treatment and follow-up recommendations. You will be given a copy of your discharge summary to take home.

Before leaving the hospital please discuss with your nurse whether you require:

  • Hospital follow-up visits.
  • GP follow-up visits.
  • Prescription to be filled at your pharmacy.
  • Medical certificate.
  • ACC Injury Claim Form (ACC45).
  • Work and Income (WINZ) form.
  • Transport and accommodation forms completed.
  • Referral to community services, i.e. district nursing, home-based support services or community-based physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

Please remember to take home:

  • Your medication.
  • Any valuables.
  • All belongings.

Please leave behind:

  • Hospital clothing.
  • Linen.

If you are leaving the hospital with crutches or other aids, remember they are loan only and must be returned as soon as you have finished with them.

If you are an overseas tourist and require copies of X-rays we can arrange this for you.

Please do not leave the ward without notifying the staff.


Donations and Bequests

Southern DHB is happy to accept any financial assistance received by way of donations or bequests, as these enable us to purchase additional items or equipment that will benefit patients.

  • Dunedin and Wakari Hospitals: Patient Affairs, main foyer.
  • Southland Hospital: Telephone (03) 214 7208.
  • Lakes District Hospital: Operations Manager (03) 441 0015.
  • HealthCare Otago Charitable Trust, PO Box 5848, Dunedin 9058. E-mail:



In the event of an emergency all patients are requested to follow the direction given by Southern DHB staff.



Telephone calls to ward or clinical areas are limited to emergency or urgent matters for immediate family members. We encourage one nominated family member or friend to provide updates to your family (whānau) to help keep them informed of your progress.

If you do not wish information to be given out please let the staff know.



Southern District Health Board is committed to providing quality health care services to the community we serve.

We also believe there is always room to improve and that’s why we welcome your feedback about your experience (good and bad), so we can learn from it and continually improve.

These are some of the ways you can tell us what you think:

• Compliments            • Complaints               • Suggestions

Feedback brochures are available in all wards and departments. To see our Feedback Brochure click on Otago or Southland.

If you are unable to email your feedback, you can write to us at the address below or print the post-paid Feedback Brochure and fill it out.

Our contact details:

Otago                                                                          Southland

Southern District Health Board                                  Southern District Health Board

Patient Affairs                                                             Quality & Risk
Private Bag 1921                                                        P O Box 828
Dunedin 9054                                                              Invercargill 9840

(03) 470 9533                                                              (03) 214 5738                       


We appreciate hearing when members of our team have exceeded your expectations.  If you want to compliment a member of the Southern DHB Team please let us know.


We work hard to deliver the highest standard of service and the highest standard of care but sometimes things can go wrong. If this happens, we want to put things right as quickly as possible and learn from the experience to make sure the same thing doesn't happen again. That is why we encourage you to tell us about your experience.

The Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights states that consumers have the right to complain.

If you have a concern or complaint about the care that you have received it is best to try to sort it out straight away. You can do this by firstly speaking to those providing your care (for example the Charge Nurse on the ward or the clinic nurse if you are an outpatient). They should listen to your concerns and do their best to address the issue, or they can advise you how to report your concerns.

If you do not feel comfortable talking to the people providing your care or you aren’t satisfied with their response you should contact Patient Affairs (Otago), Quality & Risk (Southland).

How to complain:

Ideally, you should contact us with your concern or complaint as soon as possible, this will make it easier for everyone to remember what happened.

When you contact us please give as much information as you can, including your name, your NHI number (if you know it), and your contact details – address, phone number and email. Please tell us the details: What happened; who was involved; when and where it occurred; how this made you feel; and the outcome you are seeking.

If you would like assistance with this, you can contact the Health and Disability Advocacy Service for free independent advice and support on 0800 555 050.

What you can expect from the process:

We will send you a letter or email to acknowledge receipt of your complaint or concern within five working days. We will do our best to give you a full reply as quickly as possible, usually within one month. If we think it will take longer, we will let you know.

Your complaint is not kept within your medical notes and does not in any way affect your future care.

What to do if you are not happy:

After your consideration, should you still not be satisfied with our response to your complaint, you have the right to have the issues reconsidered by advising, in writing, the Southern District Health Board’s Patient Affairs Department.

Or you may make a formal complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner on 0800 112233 or complete the online form on the Health and Disability Commissioner’s website.


If you have a suggestion, we would like to hear what you have to say. Suggestions also provide opportunities for improving how we care for future patients.



Eligibility for free health care:

  • A New Zealand citizen (including Cook Islanders, Niue or Tokelau).
  • A pregnant woman with spouse/ partner who is a NZ resident (maternity care only).
  • A foreign worker with work permit for 2 years or more.
  • An Australian or UK resident requiring ‘immediate necessary treatment’
  • A refugee with proof of status.
  • A child under 18 years who is under the legal guardianship of an eligible person.

Overseas visitors:

  • Following an accident, if accepted by ACC.
  • Any patient admitted to hospital under a compulsory treatment order issued under the Tuberculosis Act 1948, the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 or the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act 1966.

Non-NZ residents will be required to provide proof of eligibility for publicly funding health services, e.g. passport. Those who cannot provide proof will need to pay for the health services they receive.

For further information go to:

If you are ineligible for free treatment, an invoice will be given to you on discharge and arrangements for payments made.



Grief is our reaction to the loss of someone or something and is a very personal experience. Seeking support and information is important if you are finding this a difficult period in your life.

Read more about how to cope with grief and loss here


Most useful information and where to get help can be found here 


Hand Hygiene

It is important that health care staff who touch you have washed their hands before doing so. You can ask them to do so.


Hard of Hearing / Visual Impairment 

If you require these services or additional assistance please ask the staff member caring for you. A sign language interpreter is available.


Hospital Hosts and Staff Volunteers

St John Ambulance Service hospital hosts and volunteers are here to assist patients and visitors in the Emergency and Oncology Departments, and the foyer of Dunedin Hospital and in the Emergency Department of Southland Hospital.


Interpreter Service

There is a 24-hour interpreter service for most languages.

See the Interpreter Poster on the premises or ask a staff member.



Dunedin Ward Block and CSB Department.
Dunedin Other Buildings Map.
Southland Hospital Kew Rd.
Wakari Site Map.



Please advise medical staff of any medicines, drugs, ointments, vitamins and/ or natural remedies you are currently taking. Your medications can be stored and returned on discharge.


Use of Medicines that are Not Approved in New Zealand 

The manufacturers of a medicine must obtain approval from Medsafe (a government agency) if they want to market their medicine in NZ. They have to show the medicine is safe to use, works for the illness being treated, what the side effects are, and that it has been made to a high standard.

Your doctor may prescribe a medicine that is not approved in NZ for the illness you have. This is sometimes referred to as ‘off-label’ use. Your doctor will have recommended this medicine because they feel it is the best choice for your illness and there is information showing that it is safe.

Why would a medicine be used in a situation where it is not approved?

There are several reasons:

  • The medicine may have been approved in NZ in the past but due to low usage the manufacturer has decided it is too expensive to maintain the approval. The medicine may be widely used in other countries.
  • The medicine may already be approved for one illness (e.g. amitriptyline for depression) but doctors find that it works very well for another illness (e.g. amitriptyline for nerve pain).
  • Because studies were not done in children, a medicine may only have approval in adults but it is commonly used for children as well.
  • The medicine may be approved to be given in one way (e.g. by injection) but it is then found to be useful when given in a different way (e.g. by mouth).
  • It may be too difficult or expensive to do the required studies on the medicine.

How will I know that the medicine is not approved for my illness?

Your doctor should tell you. If you read the information leaflet that comes with the medicine, you may notice that the information does not apply to your illness.

If you are concerned, talk it over with your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to give you a special information leaflet about the medicine so please ask. 


Patient Rights

We want to ensure that all your rights are met.

Every person who uses health and disability services has rights and  Southern DHB staff have duties. These rights and duties are clearly set out in the Code of Health and Disability Services - Consumer Rights.

In summary, your rights under this code are:

  • Right to be treated with respect
  • Right to freedom from discrimination, coercion, harassment, and exploitation
  • Right to dignity and independence
  • Right to services of an appropriate standard
  • Right to effective communication
  • Right to be fully informed
  • Right to make an informed choice and give informed consent
  • Right to support
  • Rights in respect of teaching or research
  • Right to complain

Pamphlets explaining your rights when using our services are available in all wards and departments.

For more information on your rights contact:

If you feel your rights have been breached, please refer to the complaints process from the hospital from which you have received your care.


Personal Electrical / Electronic Equipment

Cell phones are not permitted where medical equipment is being used.

Refer to each ward regarding personal electrical / electronic equipment.


Photographs / Video Recordings

Cell phones are not permitted where medical equipment is being used.

Refer to each ward regarding personal electrical / electronic equipment.


Privacy and Your Health Information

Collection of Health Information

Health information is collected for your care and treatment. Usually it will be collected directly from you, but if this is not possible/practical it may be collected from another person and then checked with you as soon as possible.

It is important that the information we hold about you is accurate and up to date in order to provide a safe standard of care during your stay in hospital. You may choose to provide additional information which may help in providing context to your current hospitalisation.

Security of your information

Your information will be stored securely. Only authorised staff will be able to access your information.

It is normal practice to give necessary and relevant information about you to your GP and/or referring practitioner. Other health professionals and relevant community agencies may be provided with information in order to deliver appropriate health services. If you do not wish this to happen, please make staff aware.

In most cases we would require your consent before we would release information about you to somebody else.   In certain situations however, we are compelled by law to release information (Police search warrant, or children at risk).

Access to Your Information

You can request access to your information and may request correction of it if necessary.

Who to Contact about a Privacy Issue

If you have a concern relating to a privacy issue please contact the Privacy Officer of the facility you are in. If you feel the issue has not been addressed to your satisfaction following that conversation, we encourage you to contact the Privacy Commission on their number 0800 803 909 or through their web site:


Property and Valuables 

Do not bring items of value or large sums of money into hospital. 


Resuscitation (CPR)

When someone in the hospital suddenly becomes unresponsive, and the staff cannot find a pulse or detect breathing, we call it a cardiac arrest.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is the attempt made by the hospital staff to restore pulse and breathing.

Some patients may not want these attempts to be made for them.

If you do not want to be resuscitated, or wish to discuss this further, please tell a member of the staff caring for you. We can document your wishes and initiate a ‘Not for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Order’ if you wish.


Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs

All Southern District Health Board premises are smokefree, alcohol-free and drug-free for all staff and visitors.

If you are a smoker, your stay in hospital is an opportunity for you to quit. Smokefree Support can offer advice and support during your stay and in some cases may be able to provide you with nicotine replacement therapy – please ask your nurse for more information.  

Smokefree Support is also available following your discharge to support you in becoming smokefree.

  • Quitline: 0800 778 778.



Dunedin, Wakari, Southland and Lakes District Hospitals are teaching hospitals. Patients can consent to take part in teaching procedures.


While you wait

We realise that waiting for an appointment can be stressful. WellSouth has created a list of tips to help you take care of yourself while you wait. Click here to read.


Zero Tolerance Towards Violence

The Southern District Health Board has a zero tolerance towards any kind of violence. All staff and patients have the right to work in a safe environment.