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Labour's Healthline Merger Fails

Labour's Healthline Merger Fails

Heather Roy Saturday, 3 December 2005 Press Releases - Health

The Ministry of Health has finally admitted that merging Plunketline with Healthline has been a failed experiment, said ACT Health Spokesman, Heather Roy.

"The Ministry has announced that a separate Well Child telephone service will be put out to tender before Christmas, and the contract will start in July 2006. I hope that Plunket is intending to tender for the contract," Mrs Roy said.

For almost a century, Plunket has provided New Zealand parents and children with an invaluable and hugely popular service. Plunketline has been a flagship for Plunket, and I hope that this well respected organisation wins the tender and retains the unique character of its service, which parents have come to rely on.

"Prime Minister Clark and Annette King launched a pre-election petition in 1999 which gained 60,000 signatures, giving Labour the support of parents outraged at the thought of Plunketline's closure. The 2004 merger of Plunketline into Healthline showed that this was merely a populist election platform.

"Clark and King pledged that, once in office, they would ensure Plunketline never closed due to lack of funding. But they did not say anything about absorbing it into Healthline – a cynical, cost- saving move.

"I predicted at the time that the merger was not the best option available, and the fear was that Plunketline would lose its special identity.

"Now Plunket has the opportunity to regain Plunketline as an autonomous organisation which parents will again be able to contact directly. The Healthline connection, instigated by the Ministry of Health with Annette King's blessing, has been a disaster.

"Targets have not been met and the Minister of Health would have been better funding Plunketline upgrades directly, as was strongly advocated at the time," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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