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Click the links in the list below to go directly to the latest news article of your choice.

Carefirst Bell Block Medical Centre official opening

9 July, 2024

The new Carefirst Bell Block Medical Centre is officially open and ready to care for Bell Block and the surrounding communities! Our team are proud to be locals caring for locals.

Tēnā koe/thanks to Dinnie Moeahu, NPDC councillor and Puketapu hapū representative for his guidance and for leading us through the mihi whakatau/welcome to formally open our new Bell Block clinic.

Tēnā koutou/thank you to everyone who came along to our celebrations last night. It was a special, multicultural welcome into the area that truly reflected both our workforce and the community we are so proud to serve.

Tēnā koutou to everyone working hard behind the scenes to make the new clinic a possibility and last, but certainly not least, TĒNĀ KOUTOU to everyone that has enrolled so far, and that have taken the time to welcome Carefirst to the Bell Block community – your kind words are very much appreciated!

Click here to view more images from the mihi whakatau.

‘Climate action in practice’ – Carefirst features in GP Voice!

25 June, 2024

Word about our team’s passion for sustainable healthcare practices has also gotten out in the nation’s GP community, with the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners asking our very own Dr Kiyomi Kitagawa to write about our sustainability journey in the College’s magazine, GP Voice.

Click the link below and head to page 12 to read her valuable insights (and make sure you check out the cover image – that’s us too!)

Article: Climate action in practice – by Dr Kiyomi Kitagawa

Melanoma Awareness Month a crucial reminder for sun protection all year round

31 May, 2024

Protect your skin all year round. That’s the message from Taranaki skin cancer experts as we head into Winter.

Dr Nelia Lourens, Skin Clinic Taranaki surgeon says, “People are often a bit more relaxed about skin protection over the colder months. While it may not feel as hot, ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause just as much skin damage throughout this time, increasing the risk of skin cancer.”

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and with New Zealand (NZ) having the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, we can’t be complacent.

More than 80,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer in NZ each year, with more than 6000 of those being melanoma. It’s estimated that skin cancers account for 80% of all new cancer diagnoses in NZ each year.

“Those most at risk during the cooler months are people who spend a lot of time outside like farmers and tradies, and those spending time around or on reflective surfaces like snow, ice, concrete, sand, and bodies of water.

“People with health conditions such as an autoimmune disease, those taking medicines (such as antibiotics) that increase sensitivity to the sun, and those with a family history of skin cancer are also at a higher risk,” says Dr Lourens.

While it is nearing the end of Melanoma Awareness Month, Dr Lourens says people should feel positive about the fact that skin cancer is almost entirely preventable, as there is plenty people can do to protect themselves all year round.

All the usual Sunsmart rules still apply; when you’re outside slip into protective clothing, slop on sunscreen (at least SPF30), slap on a hat, wrap on some sunglasses, and where possible stay in the shade.

Early detection of skin cancer and sun damage is also extremely important.

“If melanoma is treated early enough it is almost always curable. You have the best chance of catching skin cancers early with regular skin checks. This is particularly important for those with a family history of skin cancer, who should be having skin checks every year.

“At Skin Clinic Taranaki we offer several skin cancer prevention and detection services including single or multi-spot/lesion checks, full body skin checks and Total Body Imaging. We also offer NAEVUS Mole Mapping, a head-to-toe skin check where detailed images of all your significant moles and lesions are taken,” says Dr Lourens.

Any spots of concern are assessed by one of our doctors, and all images are kept on file for reference at future appointments.

“NAEVUS Mole Mapping and total body imaging is especially useful for long-term monitoring, given that the first sign of skin cancer is often a change in the shape, size, or colour of an existing spot, or the appearance of a new spot.

“There’s no better time than now to step up your skin cancer prevention measures, and if you haven’t been getting regular skin checks, it’s never too late in life to start. We’re here to help,” Dr Lourens adds.

To find out more about how Skin Clinic Taranaki can support you with prevention, diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer and sun damage, visit

Locals caring for locals at new Carefirst Bell Block Medical Centre

27 May, 2024

Pictured from left, outside the site of the new Carefirst Bell Block Medical Centre, is chief executive Leigh Sampson, administration manager Cynette Hickin, doctors Geoff Putt and Amanda Brown, nurse practitioner intern Katherine Whaley and Dr Nelia Lourens. Image credit – Lisa Burd/STUFF

What do you get when you combine three local general practitioners (GPs) who are passionate about the health of the Bell Block and surrounding communities, and a population in serious need of accessible GP care?

You get Carefirst Bell Block Medical Centre, a new GP clinic scheduled to welcome patients for booked appointments on Tuesday 9 July.

Sharing facilities with Working for Health at 69 Corbett Road, the clinic will be run by doctors Nelia Lourens, Geoff Putt and Amanda Brown. They will be supported by administration manager Cynette Hickin and other nursing and support staff.

Many will already be familiar with Dr Putt, who provides GP care to residents at Kohatu and Norfolk rest homes in Waitara, and Summerset Retirement Village in Bell Block.

With all four senior staff living locally, Dr Lourens says, “We are acutely aware of just how many in our community are struggling to access GP care when they need it most.”

Leigh Sampson, Carefirst chief executive says, “Bell Block and the surrounding areas have experienced significant and rapid growth in recent years, and GP care in the community has simply not kept up. It’s incredibly important that people can access the healthcare they need, close to home.”

Dr Lourens says, “With the support of our Carefirst and Skin Clinic Taranaki colleagues, we are
excited to be making a positive contribution to the community’s wellbeing.”

Sampson adds, “We are committed to ensuring ongoing, equitable and timely healthcare to these wonderful, growing communities.

“As a larger primary healthcare provider with clinics in Westown, Merrilands, Moturoa and now Bell Block, Carefirst is well placed to ensure consistent staffing and access to equitable GP care for all.”

Given the current need for primary care in the area, anyone with an address north of the Waiwhakaiho bridge can enrol at Carefirst Bell Block. Over time the team will extend service availability to the wider community.

For now, people are encouraged to register their interest with Carefirst Bell Block by calling 06 968 1440 or emailing .

“The Carefirst team have been caring for the people of New Plymouth for over 25 years, and we look forward to the next 25 and beyond in our new Bell Block clinic,” says Dr Lourens.

Click here to read the article featured in the Taranaki Daily News.

Supporting resilient, capable and healthy Taranaki tradies

5 April, 2024

L- R: Christina Lorth (BWT general manager), Leigh Sampson (Carefirst CEO), Craig Hattle (Carefirst Board chair), Dr Kyomi Kitagawa (doctor/shareholder), Bronwen Pepperell (nurse practitioner/shareholder), Dr Sarah Carrington (doctor/shareholder), Dr Geoff Putt (doctor/shareholder).

There is no shame in being vulnerable. It is probably one of the best things you will do for yourself.

When is the best time to talk? Probably now.

These are just a couple of the important messages featured on a bespoke piece from artist and wellbeing advocate, Paul Rangiwahia, commissioned by Building Wellness Taranaki (BWT) for the local construction community.

As a proud sponsor of BWT, the Carefirst team were excited to host Christina Lorth, general manager, at a recent Board meeting to discuss our shared vision for the health and wellbeing of Taranaki tradies, and be presented with the artwork which also features Carefirst.

Leigh Sampson, Carefirst CEO said she was delighted to be working with BWT in what was a very natural partnership.

“We share similar values and are focused on the health and wellness of our community. Our team of clinicians, nurses, health improvement practitioners and kaitautoko/support staff are motivated to help the construction community to be resilient, capable, and healthy.”

“We do this by having a welcoming and confidential practice environment where tradies can access support and care when they need it,” Leigh adds.

BWT says the simple messages in the piece act as a check-in and help to get people thinking and talking about what matters most. The ultimate goal is to empower people to create positive action on their own wellbeing and to help others.

Leigh says, “The wellbeing of this group of workers is very important and we are pleased to work with BWT to foster this. We are humbled and honoured to be part of Paul Rangiwahia’s art, and we will have a piece hanging in each of our three clinics.”

For more information about BWT and the fantastic work it does to support the Taranaki construction community, visit


Flu vaccinations available from Tuesday 2 April

27 March, 2024

Carefirst encourages all patients to book in for a flu vaccination ahead of the winter months. 

The 2024 flu vaccine is free for:

  • people aged 65 years and over
  • people aged six months and older who have a long-term medical condition like diabetes, asthma, or a heart condition
  • pregnant people
  • children aged four years and under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness
  • people with mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizoaffective disorder
  • people who are currently accessing secondary or tertiary mental health and addiction services.

 If you are not eligible for a funded flu vaccination, the cost is $28.

You can also book in for the new COVID-19 booster at the same time as your flu vaccination if:

  • You’re aged 30+ years
  • It has been at least 6 months since you had COVID-19 infection
  • It has been 6 months since your last COVID-19 booster

To book an appointment for a flu and/or COVID-19 vaccination, please phone your clinic reception – click here for contact information. Additional Saturday vaccination clinics will be run on 6, 13 and 20 April.

For more information on flu vaccination, click here. For more information about COVID-19 vaccination, click here.


Measles information

November, 2023

We now have a case of measles in Taranaki. This is being managed by the Taranaki Public Health Unit to reduce the risk of measles spreading in the community.

Symptoms of measles:  7-14 days from exposure, include a fever, cough, runny nose, sore and watery pink eyes. This is followed by a blotchy rash a few days later,

Advice to concerned people:

Check your MMR vaccination status.

People are considered immune to measles if they have received two doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, have had measles previously, or lived in New Zealand before 1969. 

Call the clinic to get vaccinated if you have had only one MMR vaccination and were born after Jan 1969.

You Doctor will likely arrange an phone consults, they will discuss with you coming into the clinic if you need to. 

Contact Healthline or your clinic in the first instance. 


Free vaccination clinics – July & August 2023

Carefirst are partnering with Tui Ora and Te Whatu Ora – Taranaki to provide free vaccination clinics at our Moturoa Medical Centre, all vaccinations for all ages – FREE. Everyone is welcome.

29th July and 26th August – Moturoa Medical Centre – Giveaways and a sausage sizzle for everyone

You don’t have to be a patient with us – everyone is welcome. You can enrol on the day if you want to join our practice.

How to preserve your GP for future use

May 2023

Check out the article at the link below which gives advice and ideas about working effectively and efficiently with your GP… they are a precious resource!

Article – How to preserve your GP for future use


Flu vaccinations 2023

The flu season is just around the corner; be prepared by getting your flu vaccination. These are available for everyone from Monday 3 April 2023.

Below is a list of criteria that makes a patient eligible for a FREE flu vaccinations:

*  Children 6 months to 12 years (inclusive)
*  Pregnant people
*  People aged 65 years and older
*  Maori and Pacific peoples aged 55 to 64 years
*  People aged 6 months to under 65years with an eligible health condition
*  People aged 6 months to under 65 years with serious mental health and addiction conditions

New Wellness Wall for Carefirst Westown

8 February, 2023


The 22-metre white wall outside Carefirst Westown has been covered with artistic messages about mental health. The wellness wall pictures were created by wellness advocate and artist Paul Rangiwahia from New Plymouth.

“It’s really exciting. We’ve had a lot of awareness in the community, this is a great challenge, a call to action to say we can take these conversations out there. We can put them wherever,” says Rangiwahia.

CareFirst chief executive Leigh Sampson said, “Our initial goal was to connect us with the community, then it became a mental health connection.”

Click here to read the full article from Taranaki Daily News

Pride in health

A new website has been launched by a group of medical doctors that is aimed at providing guidance for everyone working with the rainbow community. We are all motivated to ensure that our LGBTQIA+ patients receive safe, proactive and appropriate healthcare. Thanks to Dr Ari Chuang and his team for their work on this. Check out the link Pride in Health


Carefirst Westown is offering all eligible patients a second booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccination.  You can book online at 
We are strongly encouraging all our eligible patients to get a second booster dose, and especially older people/kaumatua (+65yrs). 

Please check your eligibility on the My Covid Record where you can access your vaccination dates. 

You can have your second booster if:

* It has been 3 months since you have tested positive for Covid
* It is 6 months since your first Covid booster

You can get a booster dose by:
* Making a booking through Book My Vaccine at – (choose 99 Tukapa Street as the location) or by phoning 0800 28 29 26

Current evidence shows that your immunity decreases over time after the Covid vaccine. A second booster dose is recommended no earlier than 6 months after your first booster. 


Winter is here and as we know coughs, colds and flus are extremely common. We are seeing many people with colds and infuenza.  It means we have very few appointments available for semi-urgent or routine care, as we have to make more appointments available for flus. Coughs, colds and flus are usually caused by VIRAL infections of the nose & upper airways, and they affect most adults 2-4 times per year, kids 5-6 times and those in preschool up to 12 times a year!

Wearing a mask when you are in indoor spaces can help reduce the odds of you catching a virus from someone else.


  • Stay at home
  • Do a Covid RAT test. These can be negative at the start of a Covid illness so if symptoms continue, you should re-RAT every 24-48 hours until you are better


  • Blocked or runny nose (yellow or green snot is common, and green snot does not need antibiotics)
  • Sneezing
  • Feeling generally unwell, tired, headache and achey muscles
  • Fever
  • Cough (dry or productive). Having a cough does not mean that it has ‘gone to your chest’ or that you necessarily need antibiotics
  • Sore throat. If you are at risk of Strep throat (see please contact us for advice.

Symptoms are typically at their worst for 2-3 days and then gradually clear. However, the cough may carry on after the infection has gone and last for 2-4 weeks as the inflammation gradually settles.


  • Have plenty to drink, rest and stopping smoking and drinking alcohol if applicable!
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen for pain
  • Salt (saline) nose drops for babies & vapour rubs for kids and adults can help with nasal congestion in some cases. Older kids and adults can use Otrivin for a few days to ease blocked noses
  • Some people find other over the counter cough remedies from the pharmacy can help them manage their symptoms (note there is no evidence that these help particularly); please always discuss safe use with pharmacy
  • Honey before bed can ease a cough a little
  • If you need pharmacy medications please send someone who is well to get them for you. Sick people need to stay home so they don’t spread their infection to others

Antibiotics do not get rid of colds and your immune system usually clears the infection. In some cases antibiotics are needed; such as for those with underlying lung disease.

Symptoms to consider contacting our nurses about include;

  • Wheezing or breathlessness (including if symptoms don’t respond to your normal inhalers if you use these)
  • Severe headaches, especially if associated with vomiting, a stiff neck, a rash or difficulty looking at bright light
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood (or if sputum dark or rusty-coloured)
  • Becoming drowsy or confused
  • Fever lasting more than five days. Or a fever that goes and then comes back
  • Dehydration (not passing urine regularly)
  • Cough persisting for longer than 3-4 weeks
  • If you have a child that has gone downhill and you are worried, please call and speak to a nurse

We are always happy to provide advice and see sick people when needed. If you are unsure, please call and speak to a nurse for help.


  • It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine! From July 1 it is also free for children aged 3-12, and those with mental health or addiction concerns.


Carefirst Westown are making a conscious effort to reduce waste within our medical centre.  We are taking part in NPDC Resource Wise Business Program.  This program is part of a trial for businesses who are interested in reducing the amount of waste they send to landfill. 

We are delighted to have achieved ‘silver’ stage following an audit of our waste management processes.  Over 55% of our waste has been diverted from landfill and has been recycled or composted.  Now we are working hard to achieve ‘gold’ stage!


It is only a matter of time before positive cases of COVID-19 in the Taranaki community are increasing. Most people who get COVID-19 will have a mild to moderate illness, and will fully recover in their own home. For those who need help, the healthcare system will always be available.

Being ready for getting COVID-19 is about making sure you and your household have a plan and know what to do. It will mean your whānau and community can help each other if needed.

Below is a helpful link from the covid website that will help you and your whanau to be ready.

COVID-19-Readiness-Checklist.pdf (


The government have reduced the interval between a person’s primary vaccination course and the booster from 4 months to 3 months – starting this Friday, 4 February 2022.

Book on line at or drop into our Westown clinic to have your vaccine. No appointment is necessary.

This is a significant step in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic as it now means a total of 3,063,823 people aged 18 and over – two thirds of our population – will be eligible for their booster from this weekend. Over 1.3 million people have already got theirs.

The Government is urging every New Zealander who is eligible for a booster to get it as soon as possible. We are in a race against Omicron and the more people who are boosted the more we can reduce the impact of the outbreak.

Bringing forward the booster timing will help those who have been immunised more recently. It will mean more people, especially Māori, will be able to receive a booster before Omicron takes hold in communities.

Boosters lower your chances of getting very sick from the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and ending up in hospital. Fewer hospitalisations from COVID-19 will mean our health system can continue to provide the full range of care people need, in particular for our most vulnerable such as people with disabilities or long-term illnesses.


The Carefirst group ask that all eligible patients wear a mask when in our clinics.

The ministry has now mandated that all children from year 4 and older are required to wear masks when at school and in the classroom.  Please note that bandanas, scarves etc are not acceptable as a mask.

If you are concerned about your child wearing a mask you should discuss this in the first instance with your child’s school.

Please refer to the below website for more information about children wearing masks.

Please refer to the below website for more information about mask exemptions

Carefirst Westown Urgent Care Services

From the 20th December 2021 our urgent care services for our patients will be reduced.

Our opening hours will be reduced to 9am – 1pm.

Due to covid our urgent care will continue to run a booking system, please call the clinic if you would like to make an appointment.

The Carefirst team apologies for this inconvenience and hope to be back to 9am – 4.30pm service hours as soon as possible.

ZOSTAVAX – Shingles Vaccine

Almost everyone is at risk of shingles because they are likely to have been exposed to chickenpox as some stage in their lives. The Zostavax vaccination prevents shingles and funding for this is changing.

  • From the 31 December 2021 it will only be funded once for patients and in their 65th year.
  • The ministry has funded a catch up programme for anyone over 65 who has not yet received their vaccine.
  • The vaccine is free for anyone  between 65 and 81 years of age until 31 December 2021.
  • Funded vaccines are only available through your GP practice

At Carefirst we are encouraging all patients to book an appointment with one of our nurses to receive a funded Zostavax vaccination before the opportunity expires on the 31 December 2021.

Call your GP practice, Westown, Merrilands or Moturoa medical centre to book an appointment for your vaccine.


Carefirst Westown and Merrilands Medical Centre are offering covid-19 vaccinations for everyone, you don’t have to be one of our registered patients to book a vaccine or visit to receive a vaccine.

You can book online for either clinic or you can walk into our Westown clinic without an appointment

From November 29 we will be offering BOOSTER vaccinations.

Book online at to make an appointment

Visit covid record to find out when your booster is due.

Make an appointment

Learn more about our different appointment types and how to make them.

We're here to help

We care about your health and wellbeing, our goal is to provide excellent primary care services to our patients.


Carefirst Westown

99 Tukapa Street, Westown, New Plymouth (06) 753 9505

Carefirst Merrilands

Merrilands Shopping Centre, Mangorei Road, New Plymouth 4312 (06) 758 8773

Carefirst Moturoa

486 Saint Aubyn Street, Moturoa, New Plymouth 4310 (06) 751 0390

Carefirst Bell Block

69 Corbett Road, Bell Block 06 968 1440

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