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Ministry of Health to put Well Child out to tender

2 December 2005

Ministry of Health to put Well Child out to tender

A Well Child telephone service separate from Healthline will be established in June 2006, the Ministry of Health announced today.

"Telephone health assistance lines are recognised internationally as an important part of modern health service delivery," Acting Deputy Director-General Clinical Services, Dr Pat Tuohy said.

"The ability to get advice and reassurance from your home is often invaluable. The changes we're announcing today will improve access to child health advice."

In July 2004 the Ministry contracted McKesson New Zealand Ltd to provide a national Healthline service, which would also incorporate advice on Well Child and parenting support. McKesson sub-contracted Plunket to provide the Well Child service via their PlunketLine.

Established in 1994, PlunketLine provides information on child health issues, as well as support for parents. Since the integration of services last year, different expectations about service delivery have emerged and Plunket has requested the opportunity to contract for a separate service.

"While there has been considerable progress, particularly for PlunketLine since the incorporation of PlunketLine into Healthline, full integration has been more difficult to achieve than anticipated," Dr Tuohy said.

"The Ministry will tender for a separate Well Child telephone advice service after the current contract expires in June 2006.

"The Ministry is working with all the parties involved to ensure the high quality and continuity of services are maintained during the tender period. The benefit of a separate Well Child service is that callers with a particular health problem or requiring information on a well child will have a clear idea of which service to call for advice."

Healthline is a free national 24 hour telephone health advice service staffed by registered nurses. The nurse assesses a caller's health needs, using a computer triage system and gives information and advice to help a caller decide on the type of health care they need.

The Ministry of Health began the national roll out of Healthline in 2004 and in July this year Healthline became available to all New Zealanders.

The contract for the Well Child telephone advice service will be put out to tender before Christmas.


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