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Plunket to seek meeting with Prime Minister

9 April 2006

Plunket to seek meeting with Prime Minister

Plunket, founders and operators of PlunketLine, an information and support service for parents, is seeking an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister following the announcement that Government is to withdraw funding from PlunketLine and instead fund a competing telephone service to be operated by US-owned multi-national McKesson Corporation.

“Since this decision was announced on Friday my telephone and the PlunketLine itself has been running hot with people ringing expressing concern and support”, says Kaye Crowther, President of Plunket.

PlunketLine was pioneered by Plunket in 1994. Initially voluntary contributions were used to fund the service, but it was so successful that funding was sought from Government to keep this valuable service going. PlunketLine answers more than 65,000 calls a year staffed by 40 specialist Plunket nurses. Most New Zealanders are Plunket babies as 91% of children born in New Zealand have been looked after by Plunket.

“We find this decision defies commonsense. Not only is the organisation which founded the service and has looked after 91% of New Zealand children being passed over, but Government is placing key parts of the care of our children in the hands of an off-shore multi-national who the Ministry of Health has acknowledged has little or no experience in well child services.

“The nurturing and care of our children is at the heart of who we are as New Zealanders. Plunket has been doing this work for 100 years and is well equipped to provide the PlunketLine service and should be supported by Government to continue to do so.

“We have been told that we did not get the contract because McKesson can provide better clinical telephone-based services. We contest this, as our nurses are very capable in this regard, but more importantly, mothers do not just want a functional clinical telephone service. They are looking for more than this, for emotional support, family and community integration and a total approach to care.

“This decision by Government is very serious for our organisation. We will be forced to use valuable donated funds to keep PlunketLine running. I would urge New Zealanders to think very deeply about this and whether we should be putting at risk a high quality asset built up over 100 years.

“To be frank, I can’t imagine it is the intention of this Government to undermine Plunket and that is what I want to ask the Prime Minister”, says Kaye Crowther.

ENDS

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