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Freephone Health Advice Line On Track

The new freephone clinical advice line Healthline is a step closer with the Health Funding Authority due to decide by the end of this month who will run the trial phone service.

"The free 24 hour clinical Healthline telephone service is being piloted in Canterbury, West Coast, Northland and the East Coast.

"It uses technology to ensure people get the right care by the right person at the right time.

"Healthline is being provided by the Health Funding Authority as an additional service for people who cannot easily access doctors, particularly those in rural areas and people delaying visiting a doctor for financial reasons.

"The free health advice service will complement emergency medical and accident services and will cover a population of 630,000 people.

"National is committed to look for ways to get more people to health care as early as possible. For some, picking up a telephone and getting clinical advice is the answer.

"The HFA has called for proposals from organisations interested in running the Healthline trial service and received 12 proposals by the end of last month.

"An advisory group of six experts from various areas of the health sector, including a Youthline representative, Maori advisor, a rural doctor, a nurse and two others who have knowledge of and interest in the sector is helping guide the process.

"The advisory group will read and evaluate the Healthline proposals and a successful provider chosen early in November.

"Healthline will start operating in the four regions next January with an 0800 number and run for two years," Mr Creech said.

ENDS

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