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Pub Charity Provides Funding For Plunketline

Hon Annette King Speech Notes

Everyone here knows Plunketline has been through desperate times and happy times. As someone who is proud to have battled with it through the really tough times, I am delighted to be here today on one of the happiest moments in its history.

Today, in fact, feels like a vindication of the work of thousands of people who have supported Plunketline over the years, especially the 60,000 who signed the petition I launched in 1999 to rescue the service.

Since May 1 last year the Government has funded Plunketline 24 hours a day, but from October 1 this year Pub Charity Incorporated will provide a million dollars to fund Plunketline for a year. It is the biggest grant Pub Charity has ever made.

This is magnificent news. It does not mean the Government is reducing its own support for Plunket, but it means that support can be used in other Plunket services.

One million dollars is, in anyone's language, a large amount of money, and will allow Plunketline to continue to provide the high quality, professional service we have all come to expect.

I want to congratulate Plunket and Pub Charity on their initiative in reaching this agreement, and I am, of course, also highly appreciative of Pub Charity’s general work in the community. Plunketline is only one of thousands of causes it supports.

The funding will benefit a large number of New Zealanders. In the year to June 30 this year, the service received more than 65,000 calls. They represented almost 95,000 queries, as many parents ring with several queries. The most common are crying and unsettled babies, sleep management and breast feeding.
Bringing up kids can be extraordinarily challenging, as many of us know. The reassurance Plunketline offers parents is extremely important. It can literally be a lifeline.

It is also significant that a recent survey has shown that 51 percent of callers would have visited their doctor or an after-hours service if they had not rung Plunketline. That means Plunketline is saving money in terms of other health services.

The ‘one stop shop’ approach is also consistent with broader changes to the health sector. Integrated care is one of the core principles of these changes.

It is important parents know where to access a service, how to access it, and don't feel intimidated about accessing it. Plunketline certainly fits the bill, with one telephone number, easy to remember, and staffed 24 hours a day. 0800 933 922. Once parents have rung it once, they are not going to forget it.

However, it is also important to see Plunketline in a wider perspective, in terms of other health initiatives. For example, it is certainly worth thinking about how Plunketline and the pilot Healthline service may be able to work together, without Plunketline losing its special identity and sense of purpose.

Duplication and overlap of services need to be kept to a minimum, and different services offering similar programmes should share their ideas and experiences.

I want to congratulate everyone who has had a hand in making today’s event possible. Pub Charity's wonderful initiative provides financial certainty, and offers Plunketline a real opportunity to continue to improve child health in New Zealand.

I feel more than ever confident that the tough days for Plunketline are well and truly in the past, and I am delighted to have been allowed the opportunity to announce this exciting news. I wish this happy new partnership all the very best for the future.

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