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Plunket Line Has Rung Up Second Successful Year

15 August 2001


As Plunket Line celebrates the second anniversary of its return to operation (subs 16 August), call statistics indicate that crying and unsettled babies, sleep management and breastfeeding are issues that most frequently prompt parents to phone Plunket Line.

The telephone help line received 65,242 calls for the year ending 30 June 2001 - 13,000 more calls than in its first year back as a 24-hour service. Plunket Line operated a 12- hour day from 16 August 1999 until it went 24-hour on 1 May 2000, largely due to the efforts of the Minister of Health, Annette King, who as opposition health spokesperson, led a nationwide petition for its reinstatement.

Multiple concerns Plunket Line manager Ms Jenny Allan, said parents and caregivers were often calling with more than one issue.

"We had 94,609 queries from the 65,242 calls. This trend appears to be increasing with many parents calling with several concerns regarding the care of their children."

Time of calls Ms Allan said the 24-hour service was well used with the team of Plunket nurses busiest between 1 - 7 pm when 36.32 percent (23,695) of the calls were received. From 7 pm until 7 am, 32.08 percent (20,926) of the calls came through and from 7 am to 1 pm, 31.61 percent (20,621) calls were answered.

"Calls to Plunket Line come from throughout the country and from every ethnic group," said Ms Allan.

New parents and young babies Nearly half of the calls received, 43.51 percent, related to babies aged between four and 12 months of age, with concerns for the birth to one-year age group accounting for 72.94 percent of the calls.

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Plunket Line telephone help line is used by new and experienced parents, caregivers and grandparents. Parents with one child comprise 57 percent of the callers; parents with two children, 27 percent; parents with three children, seven percent; antenatal or those with no children comprise six percent; parents with four children, two percent and parents with five or more children, one percent.

"It is clear that the support Plunket Line offers all parents, particularly first-time parents is a much needed service. Often with subsequent children, parents have more knowledge and confidence to deal with some of the concerns relating to their children, but the reassurance Plunket Line offers all parents and caregivers is apparent."

Cost-saving In a recent client survey, Ms Allan said that 51 percent of the callers would have visited their doctor or an after-hours service had they not been helped by Plunket Line and 27 percent of callers were referred by Plunket Line to their doctors.

"This must represent a saving on other health services.

"We estimate that for every 100 callers, 24 general practitioner payments are saved. A call to Plunket Line costs the government $12.82 and a payment for a doctor's visit is $32.50. (Plunket and Ministry of Health figures)

"Early support and information is a cost-effective way for government to save valuable tax-payer dollars. The early years are critical in the development of a child and provide the foundation for health in adult life," said Ms Allan.

Plunket Line ?3 Support to families

"There are a number of cases Plunket nurses identify as needing additional help. Parents are referred to other agencies to ensure their child gets the care he or she needs. Plunket Line plays an important role in the co-ordination of services and provision of support to families.

"Promoting positive emotional development is as important as maintaining physical health. The positive emotional health of infants depends on their receiving responsive, loving care and having their needs met in a satisfying way. Parents who are not highly anxious and exhausted are in a better position to meet the demands of their babies," said Ms Allan. . ends

Information from: Royal New Zealand Plunket Society Inc Jenny Allan, Plunket Line manager Telephone 04 496 1234(DDI business); 025 246 3187 (mobile) OR Angela Baldwin, General Manager Clinical Services Telephone 04 474 1532 (DDI business); 04 471-0177 (business); 025 734 516 (mobile)

Issued by: Joanne Ruscoe: Phone 04 471 6252 (business); 025 925 733 (mobile)

Attachments: Analysis of calls by Plunket regions History of Plunket Line

NB: The figures in this statement relate to the period 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001

HISTORY OF PLUNKET LINE (as at 14 August 2001)

First started by Plunket on 11 April 1994.

Closed on 7 February 1999.

During the above period Plunket Line was fully funded by Plunket, ie via fund-raising, bequests, sponsorships, grants etc.

60,000 New Zealanders signed a petition calling for the reinstatement of Plunket Line.

Plunket Line reopened on 16 August 1999, operating from midday to midnight, after government decided to fund the service for a two-year period.

The 24-hour service was reinstated on 1 May 2000.

Plunket Line's 24-hour service costs approximately $813,000 per annum to operate.

Staffed by a rostered team of 35 highly-experienced Plunket nurses. Plunket nurses are registered nurses with a specialist diploma in community child and family health promotion and have community experience.

Plunket Line, as a 12-hour service, was used by an average of 50,000 caregivers per annum - including mothers, fathers, grandparents, nannies, babysitters, practise nurses etc.

From 16 August 1999 to 13 August 2000, Plunket Line received 52,213 calls.

From 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001, Plunket Line nurses received 65,242 calls which involved 94,609 enquiries about the care of children.

The Plunket Line number is - 0800-933-922.

NB The figures in the attached media release relate to the year 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001.

Table: Plunket Line Calls per Area
Area Coverage No of calls % calls
Area 1 Northland 1,279 2%
Area 2 Waitemata 8,705 13%
Area 3 Auckland City 7,068 11%
Area 4 Counties Manukau 5,628 9%
Area 5 Waikato 3,315 5%
Area 6 Lakes/King Country 1,983 3%
Area 7 Taranaki 1,115 2%
Area 8 Bay of Plenty 2,364 4%
Area 9 Gisborne 414 1%
Area 10 Hawkes Bay 1,446 2%
Area 11 Manawatu/Wanganui 3,478 5%
Area 12 Wellington/Wairarapa 11,121 17%
Area 13 Nelson/Marlborough 2,072 3%
Area 14 Westland 386 1%
Area 15 Canterbury 8,253 13%
Area 16 Mid/South Canterbury 1,167 2%
Area 17 Otago 2,253 3%
Area 18 Southland 1,181 2%
other International/unknown 2,014 3%

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