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Plunket Welcomes Select Committee Decision

Media Release
15 December 2006

Plunket Welcomes Select Committee Decision

Plunket has welcomed the recommendation of Parliament’s Health Select Committee that Government should fund PlunketLine, as a vindication of the quality of the PlunketLine service and recognition of the public demand for it.

“53,129 people signed a petition supporting PlunketLine. We have received many, many more messages of support. The families of New Zealand have continued to ring PlunketLine in the same numbers they did before the loss of the tender. People want this service,” says Kaye Crowther, New Zealand President of Plunket.

“The public is clear and unequivocal – they want PlunketLine, not just any telephone service – and that’s why we have fought for this service this year and throughout the 12 years of its history,” she says.

In November PlunketLine took 4,718 calls - the level that calling has continued at since PlunketLine lost its Government funding in July. This translates to almost 60,000 calls a year.

“A great strength of PlunketLine is its close links into the community. Our nurses in the field are trusted and respected and this translates through to the PlunketLine service. PlunketLine is not just an add-on to our services it is a core service,” she says.

Plunket told the Committee at a hearing in October that its loss of the PlunketLine tender to an offshore technology-focused company was the result of the Ministry of Health’s apparent focus on having an integrated technology service for all health phone calls even at the expense of the integration of health services for children and young families.

“We believed then, as we do now, that the Ministry had its priorities for health telephone services wrong and clearly the Committee takes this view also.

“New Zealanders are concerned about what happens to our children as they grow up – especially where there are issues and problems. Getting the best possible start for our children must be our first and overwhelming priority because it can avert some of these problems. Successfully bringing up children is the result of a community effort and the uniqueness of Plunket is that it is deeply embedded in communities all around the country through its volunteer force”, says Mrs Crowther.

“The concerns that the Ministry raised about our technical capability must surely have been dispelled as we successfully transitioned to new technology at the time we lost the tender and have since continued to successfully operate the service using our own technology partners.

“We wish to thank the enormous number of people and organisations who have supported us. We now call on Government to set matters right by acting on the recommendation of the Health Select Committee and urgently reinstating funding for PlunketLine,” says Mrs Crowther.


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