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Draft Standards For Telephone Nurses Released

Draft Professional Standards for Telephone-based Nurses Released

Draft standards for nurses providing advice over the telephone were today released for consultation.

Ministry of Health Chief Nursing Advisor Frances Hughes said nurses involved in Healthline would be the first major users of the standards.

"However we expect the standards to have wider benefits for health professionals who frequently, or even infrequently help clients over the phone.

"We needed to develop the standards as using the phone as a medium instead of a face to face consultation has particular implications for both the customer, health professional and their employer. This type of medium is a way of the future.

"Using the telephone nurses have to rely on questioning alone wheras there can often be visual clues in face to face interactions which aid the health professional's assessment.

"These standards will both guide and protect the employer and health professional, and will protect the person receiving advice through the setting of a high level of care.

"The standards will be included in the training Healthline nurses receive, and will be included in their job descriptions," Mrs Hughes said.

The Nursing Council, Health Funding Authority, Standards New Zealand, Nursing Professional Advisory Group and Ministry of Health jointly drafted the standards. The advisory group represents nurses across the sector. Part of the work involved researching any overseas guidelines or material that contained useful information.

"But we have drafted standards which are unique to New Zealand factors, which include ensuring the service was culturally appropriate."

Mrs Hughes encouraged health sector groups to become involved in the consultation. People have until April 17th to make submissions. The standards are expected to be finalised to coincide with the rollout of Healthline in May.

The standards have been posted to the Standards New Zealand website; www.standards.co.nz

ENDS

For further information or a copy of the standards contact; Frances Ross, Chief Media Advisor, 04 496 2202; or go to the Ministry of Health Internet Address

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Healthline is a new telephone triage and health information service that is being piloted in four sites in New Zealand: Northland, Gisborne/East Coast, Canterbury and the West Coast of the South Island from 8 May 2000.

The service is being provided by High Performance Healthcare (HPH) and Access Health in conjunction with St Johns Ambulance. Both HPH and Access Health have over 10 years international experience in providing this type of service.

Healthline will be evaluated during its first 18 months of operation. This process will start even before the phone lines are open on May 8, 2000. It will focus on the stage of setting up and initial implementation of the service during the first months of operation. This will generate the first of two interim reports; the first on the establishment phase and first six months of operation, the second on the first year of the service. These two reports will be purely descriptive, as the data will be insufficient to analyse the impact of the service.

A full report on the first 18 months of the operation will be completed by January 2002. The evaluation is being undertaken by BRC Marketing and Social Research in association with Te Pumanawa Hauora via a contract with the Minsitry of Health.

It is expected that Healthline will provide significant opportunities and benefits including: guiding patients to the right care, at the right time in the right place providing people with quick access to free information and advice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year using the skills of health professionals in the most appropriate way. Overseas initiatives have demonstrated that the number of people who unnecessarily attend an emergency department and GP for treatment have been reduced in areas where telephone triage lines exist providing people in rural areas, who often live a long way from a GP or hospital, with access to immediate health advice improving service integration, existing systems and service arrangements.

END


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