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Why Women Want Plunketline Fully Funded

12 December 2006

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Why Women Want Plunketline Fully Funded

An example of Healthline 'service' was today brought to the attention of the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ). The mother of a two-year boy sought medical advice from Healthline, following her son drinking a bottle of Paracetamol. Before the Healthline employee was prepared to offer any advice, the mother had to complete a statistical survey. The advice that was given to the mother was to ring Poison helpline and the phone number was then made available.

The National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) contacted PlunketLine anonymously to get a comparison in how this body would react to the same query.

While PlunketLine no longer receives funding to assist parents with health advice it does offer to transfer calls to Healthline. The PlunketLine nurse was compassionate and allowed the caller to describe what had happened, providing the same advice as was given by Healthline, i.e. that the caller needed to contact Poison helpline. PlunketLine provided the contact number for Poison helpline, but also offered to transfer the caller directly to Poison helpline. The phone number and name of the caller was then asked for in case there was a failure in the call transfer. PlunketLine twice attempted to connect the caller to Poison helpline but due to limited availability of outside lines, a consequence of limited funding, the transfer could not be completed. The caller was directed to call Poison helpline directly and the PlunketLine nurse said she would phone the caller in 30 minutes to check that Poison helpline had been available.

The follow up call from PlunketLine happened 20 minutes later, following PlunketLine contacting Poison helpline to check that the caller had been in touch.

The child in question had to have medical treatment at hospital and the mother was very frustrated with the service she received from Healthline. The time spent responding to a survey before any assistance was offered by Healthline compared to PlunketLine’s action has left the mother thinking she should have bypassed Healthline all together.

"What is more important collecting statistics or advising on the health of a child?" said Christine Low, National President NCWNZ. "PlunketLine understand - they have been doing this for years! Their treatment of the caller was compassionate, professional and personal."

The Health Select committee is currently considering the PlunketLine petition and is anticipated to report in favour of re-instating the specific long-term funding for Plunket's 0800 PLUNKETLINE in the new year.

"The comments made earlier this year by the Government when the PlunketLine debacle hit the media have resulted in no solution for Plunket or parents. Many consider the handling of PlunketLine as a poor-spirited stall tactic and a general failure to acknowledge some bad decisions were made," said Christine Low. "The Government needs to make good on this."

ENDS

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