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24-Hour Plunket Line starts on May 1

MEDIA RELEASE, 16 February 2000

24-Hour Plunket Line starts on May 1

Health Minister Annette King announced today that Plunket Line, the telephone help line for parents and caregivers of babies and young children, will become a round-the-clock service from 1 May.

Mrs King said Plunket and the Health Funding Authority signed the agreement for the 24-hour service today.

"I am thrilled that the service's hours will be extended as quickly as May 1," she said. "I was determined the 24-hour service would be operational in the first half of the year, but the May 1 start is a bonus."

Plunket Line opened on April 11, 1994, and was funded by Plunket until escalating costs forced the service's closure on February 7, 1999.

As then Opposition spokesperson on health, Mrs King launched a campaign to reinstate the service, and organised a nationwide petition that attracted 60,000 signatures. This petition influenced the former Government to re-open the service, operating from midday to midnight, on August 16 last year.

Mrs King said today it was obvious, however, the service had to operate round the clock to be effective. "That's what I campaigned on before the election, and I am delighted at the outcome."

Plunket chief executive Paul Baigent said today Plunket Line had become an important service for many families. "The requirements of New Zealand families continue to change and it is important the services Plunket provides to advise and support parents and caregivers change to meet their needs.

"Plunket Line does that and the Government's funding of the 24 hour-service will be welcomed by thousands of concerned parents."

The extended service would cost an extra $280,000 a year, Mrs King said.

ENDS

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