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Plunketline decision – impact on children?

12 April 2006

Plunketline decision – impact on children and the community?

The Government needs to think very carefully about both outcomes for children and the engagement of community agencies when it makes decisions such as the recent one to cease funding ‘Plunketline’, says Barnardos New Zealand.

“In our view, Plunket appears to have delivered very well on a contract which was limited primarily by the funding the Government was prepared to invest in it - funding which apparently has now been increased for the new commercial provider,” says Murray Edridge, Chief Executive of Barnardos New Zealand.

“Plunket has a long-standing and well earned reputation in New Zealand for working hard to provide healthier outcomes for children. Having Plunket nurses, with their focus on child wellness, providing this telephone support and information service is important, as it ensures parents and families will use the service with confidence and that the advice provided will be best suited to the needs of each child and family in the situations presented.”

“It is hard to see this level of expertise and engagement provided by a large health service provider, which has a general rather than a child wellness focus,” says Murray.

“Of equal concern is the Government’s apparent lack of vision when it comes to supporting and encouraging the community-based provision of services.”

“Government strategy in recent years has focused on community development and working in partnership with non-governmental organisations. Whilst we’ve seen tangible evidence of this in the activities and initiatives of the Ministry of Social Development and the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, there appears to be little evidence of this commitment by the state health agency.”

“If the Government is serious about what’s best for children and their families, it should think very hard about the messages it is sending out, as well as the longer term impact of ignoring resources already available and effective within the community.”

“What seems like a convenient short-term commercial solution to a substantial community need, may well have significant unintended but detrimental consequences in the longer term.”


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