Date: 21 December, 2012
Waikato people call Healthline
More Waikato people are using the free telephone health advice service Healthline.
There were 8361 calls to Healthline from the Waikato region for the last quarter (July-Sept 2012). Many of those callers were able to then deal with the problem through a visit to their GP, an after-hours doctor, or managed their symptoms at home.
The number of callers is a 4.6 per cent increase for the same quarter last year.
Healthline – 0800 611 116 – is a free telephone health advice service available at any time of the day or night. Callers receive confidential health advice from registered nurses.
The nurses use a computer decision support system as they ask questions about what’s wrong. The system uses information about many different illnesses and their symptoms, and after working through the questions the nurse will be able to give the best advice.
Depending on the symptoms, callers may be encouraged to seek medical treatment or be given advice about how to manage a condition or minor injury at home. If the situation is serious enough, the nurse will call an ambulance.
When Hamilton resident Jane (not her real name) developed a very sore throat one weekend she thought she might be able to stick it out until Monday when she could visit her GP in Hamilton. But the pain got worse and soon became unbearable.
“The pain was so strong I felt like I was choking. I couldn’t wait until Monday, so I called Healthline instead,” she says.
“Every resident in our retirement village has been given a magnet with the Healthline number to put on their fridge. I’d never called Healthline before, but thought I’d give it a try.”
The Healthline nurse listened as Jane described her sore throat and advised her to see an after-hours doctor that day.
“I didn’t know where to find an after-hours doctor, but the nurse was able to tell me where to go and gave me directions on how to get there. At the after-hours I was admitted to the Emergency Department of Waikato Hospital where they found a peritonsillar or ‘quincy abscess’ on my tonsils.”
Doctors were able to treat Jane’s abscess and prescribed follow-up treatment
“Being able to call Healthline is a great convenience because at the time it was a choice between calling them or an ambulance.
“It was hardly a medical emergency and I certainly didn’t want to waste anyone’s time by calling for an ambulance, so being able to talk to someone at Healthline and gain some confidence about what to do was wonderful.”