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Half-hearted effort by heartless Govt

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Only half the job has been done with the start-up tomorrow of a 12 hour a day Plunket helpline service, Labour health spokesperson Annette King said today.

"Labour is committed to supporting a 24 hour a day helpline."

"More than 60,000 New Zealanders signed Labour's petition demanding funding support for this invaluable service. This public pressure forced the Government to end its stubborn opposition.

"National had no interest in funding the Plunket helpline. Indeed, the previous health minister Bill English said "the Government has never funded this line…and never will."

"I'm delighted Labour's petition forced the Government to do a U-turn. But National's commitment is only half-hearted. The new helpline will only operate for 12 hours a day, from noon to midnight. The previous Plunketline operated for 16 hours a day.

"Every parent knows that a child can get sick or distressed at any time of the day or night. The Government seems to be hoping that parents can get through until lunchtime without the advice and support that the Plunket helpline offers.

"National's approach is a complete nonsense. Labour wants a helpline service that is available to parents whenever they need it," Annette King said.

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