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Northland DHB Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT)

Public Service, ENT/ Head & Neck Surgery


This area of medicine is concerned with disorders of the ear, nose, throat, the head and the neck (ENT).  ENT Surgery is also known as Otorhinolaryngology (ORL), Head and Neck Surgery and ENT Surgeons (or Otorhinolaryngologists) are specialist doctors who deal with medical and surgical treatment of conditions of the ears, nose, throat and structures of the head and neck.

Referral Expectations

If you have an urgent problem requiring immediate surgical assessment you are referred acutely to the Emergency Department where you will initially be seen by our registrar (a trainee specialist) or senior house officer who will decide whether you need to be admitted to hospital. Investigations will be performed as required and the more senior members of the team involved where necessary.

If the matter is not urgent your GP will write an electronic referral letter to the ORL Department requesting an appointment in the outpatient clinic. One of the consultant surgeons working in the Department reviews the referral letters to determine who should be seen first, based on the information provided by the GP. Very urgent cancer cases are seen within two weeks, but other routine cases may have to wait up to four months. Routine cases may be returned to the GP with some management advice.  

We have limited resources in our public health system and are unable to see and treat all ORL conditions. Some patients may not be seen in our outpatient clinic. Currently we have limited capacity to see and treat patients with mild symptoms and the following conditions:

  • Adult snoring
  • Mild exostoses (surfer's ear)
  • Wax removal
  • Non cancerous skin lesions
  • Prominent ear correction
  • Repair of adult ear drums
  • Crooked nose/adult blocked nose

We currently have outpatient clinics in Whangārei and Kaitaia hospitals and are working towards a clinic in Kawakawa.

When you come to the ORL Outpatient Department you will be asked questions about your illness and examined to determine or confirm the diagnosis. This process may also require a number of tests (e.g. blood tests, x-rays, scans etc). Sometimes this can all be done during one clinic visit, but for some conditions this will take several follow-up appointments. Occasionally some tests are arranged before you are seen at the hospital to try to speed up the process.

Once a diagnosis has been made, the medical staff will discuss treatment with you. In some instances this will mean surgery and you will go on the elective surgery list, which is ordered according to the urgency and severity of the condition. Other cases can be managed with medication and advice.

In order to minimise the amount of time of that you have to spend in hospital, many surgical departments run a preadmission process. This is usually done through a clinic where you are seen prior to hospital admission. 

Mobile Ear Clinic

To access the Mobile Vision and Hearing Clinic call: 0800 MY EARS (0800 693 277).


Common Conditions / Procedures / Treatments

  • Acoustic Neuroma

    This is a slow-growing, benign (non-cancerous) overgrowth of tissue on the nerves that affect your hearing and balance.… More

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

    Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo More

  • Head and Neck Cancers

    Head and neck cancers are a group of malignancies affecting soft tissue and bony structures of the face, head and neck.… More

  • Head and Neck Surgery

    Head and Neck Surgery is a subspecialty of Otolaryngology that involves diagnosis and surgical treatment of benign and malignant conditions of structures in the face, head and neck excluding the brain, spine or neck muscles.… More

  • Hearing Loss

    Hearing loss More

  • Hoarseness

    Hoarseness can be described as abnormal voice changes that make your voice sound raspy and strained and higher or lower or louder or quieter than normal.… More

  • Meniere's Disease

    Meniere's Disease More

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

    Obstructive Sleep Apnoea More

  • Otitis Media

    Otitis Media (middle ear infection) More

  • Otology (Ear) Tests

    Audiometry is the electronic testing of hearing ability.  You will sit in a special room wearing earphones and be asked to respond when you hear a noise through the earphones.  These tests can measure your hearing levels as well as other aspects of hearing such as the ability to recognise… More

  • Otosclerosis

    When the growth of one of the tiny bones in your middle ear, the stapes, changes from hard to soft and spongy, it leads to the condition called otosclerosis.… More

  • Pharyngeal Pouch

    A pharyngeal pouch or Zenkers Diverticulum is an outpouching of the pharynx at the level of the larynx (voice box).… More

  • Rhinitis

    Rhinitis is the inflammation of the lining of the nose (nasal mucosa).… More

  • Sinusitis

    Sinusitis   More

  • Snoring

    Snoring More

  • Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia)

    If you find it difficult to pass food or liquid from your mouth to your stomach, you may have a swallowing disorder or dysphagia.… More

  • Tonsillitis

    Tonsillitis More

  • Thyroid Disease

    Thyroid Disease More

Contact Details

This page was last updated at 8:46AM on December 17, 2021. This information is reviewed and edited by Northland DHB Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT).