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One stop shop for Well Child telephone advice

Media Release

23 June 2006

One stop shop for Well Child telephone advice line and Healthline from July 1

New Zealanders will soon have access to a one stop shop when it comes to telephone health advice.

>From July 1, McKesson New Zealand Ltd, the company contracted by the Ministry of Health to provide the 24 hour Healthline Service, will operate the free Well Child telephone advice service previously contracted to Plunket.

All calls will go through the existing Healthline number (0800 611 116) and Well Child calls will be transferred to a Well Child nurse or a registered nurse with ready access to Well Child expertise.

Dr Pat Tuohy, Chief Advisor Child and Youth Health, says people can be assured the new service will provide appropriate, professional advice in a timely manner.

"When a parent has concerns about their child they can ring the Well Child line and talk to a nurse about what they can do. It might be a case of advising them to contact their GP or Well Child provider the next day or offering advice over the phone around issues like feeding or behaviour problems.''

Television, radio and newspaper information about the Well Child advice line will begin mid-July.

"The message is that people should ring Healthline for health advice for their whole family, including Well Child advice for children from birth through to five,'' says Dr Tuohy.

"The added advantage is that people will now only have to remember one telephone number.''

Plunket's contract to provide the Well Child advice line will finish on June 30 but Plunket recently announced its Board will continue to fund its own Well Child telephone advice service for six months. Plunket will no longer be contracted by the Ministry of Health to provide this service.

McKesson has set up a service advisory group, as required under the contract, to monitor and provide advice on training, workforce development and service provision to ensure the service supports the Well Child national schedule.

Well Child services are those that prepare, educate and support families to help ensure their children remain healthy and thrive physically, emotionally and mentally. Some of the services are provided to parents, for example parenting programmes which provide advice and support to parents about child development. Other services are directed at children such as vaccination. In the latest budget the Government announced funding for new initiatives including newborn hearing screening, a "school ready'' health check for four year olds and expansion of the number of Well Child checks for pre-school children.

Next month the Ministry will begin a review of how Well Child services are delivered to New Zealand families. The review will look at what the priorities are over the next few years and decide whether changes need to be made to the content of the Well Child schedule and the way services are provided. It will also look at other features such as the collection of child health information.

The Ministry of Health continues to provide $34 million in funding to Plunket to provide face-to-face Well Child services and is currently negotiating its contract for the 2006/2007 year. It has a high level of confidence in Plunket as a provider of these services in the community.


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