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Don’t let the hotline go cold, Prime Minister

Don Brash
National Party Leader

9 April 2006

Don’t let the hotline go cold, Prime Minister

National Party Leader Don Brash is calling on the Prime Minister to explain her “betrayal” of the iconic child health service, Plunket.

In her 1999 speech from the throne, Helen Clark said her Government would ‘fund the Plunket Line service on a 24 hour a day, seven days a week basis’. This was a follow-on from her ‘Don’t let the hotline go cold’ postcard campaign, aimed at securing Plunket Line’s future – a key Labour platform at that time.

“Why has Helen Clark now turned around and decided to dump on Plunket and the families that rely on it?”

“Why is she prepared to spend so much money on pledge cards and advertising campaigns but not on a service that has served New Zealand parents for 12 years?”

Dr Brash says Plunket Line is a vital part of Plunket’s overall service to mothers and babies.

“It’s an extension of a service that parents know and trust and it must continue.

“Having the skills and experience of a Plunket nurse at the end of the phone is invaluable to parents when they are at their most vulnerable. The proposed alternative won't have that depth of experience on the line, nor the ability to link in with the Plunket community network.

“To remove Plunket from this vital service will totally undermine the entire Plunket service.

“Helen Clark has always said she is a firm supporter of Plunket Line, it’s time she put her money where her mouth is and gave it a future,” says Dr Brash.

ENDS


Helen Clark on Plunket Line:

“We will move to fund the Plunket line for 24 hour coverage,” - Helen Clark (November 1999) Speech to Wellington Campaign Rally.

“The reasons why the Government and its many health bureaucracies won’t fund Plunketline go beyond mere pennypinching,” - Helen Clark (March 1995) Speech to Royal NZ Plunket Society’s 52nd National Conference.

Labour’s ‘detailed economic and social policy’includes… “Funding the Plunket hotline for 24 hours a day to give all parents access to free healthcare advice for their small children,” - Helen Clark (May 1995) Speech to Invercargill Rotary Club.

“I want to make a special plea for government funding of Plunket Line. It was Labour’s policy to fund it because we have been very impressed by the service. With more funding to operate more lines with more nurses, it could have been even better... But would it not be tragic if the result of cutting back on Plunket Line’s hours or its closure altogether was to be an increase in the number of infants’ and children’s deaths or near misses with illnesses like meningitis? Plunket Line does deal with real emergencies and with situations which if not dealt with speedily could become emergencies,” ­- Helen Clark (April 1997) Speech to Royal New Zealand Plunket Society.

“My government will expand early intervention programmes. The first step will be to fund the Plunket Line service on a 24 hour a day, seven days a week basis,” – Helen Clark (December 1999) Speech from the Throne.

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