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Healthline Issues Service Clarification

13 December 2006

Healthline Issues Service Clarification

Healthline, the free 24-hour confidential health advice service, is seeking to clarify recent comments made which relate to its service and standards.

Healthline general manager Michelle Branney said it is preferable to be contacted directly if a caller has an issue of concern.

Calls to Healthline are confidential and are not discussed in the public arena without consent.

Branney said that callers are not asked to complete a “statistical survey” before advice is given, as was stated by the National Council of Women of New Zealand yesterday.

In fact Healthline, which also includes the Well Child telephone advice service, asks first time callers to the service routine questions, which are in keeping with standard health sector practice and medico-legal requirements.

“Callers are asked their name, address, phone number and ethnicity, and in the example cited by the National Council of Women, the age of the child who allegedly drank a bottle of Paracetamol would have been ascertained.

“When people call the service on subsequent occasions (and we get many repeat callers), if their details are unchanged they are not asked the demographic questions again. Instead, we are able to refer to their previous call record, which is extremely helpful for both the caller and the nurse in addressing the current concern. Also, if the caller and nurse become disconnected the nurse can reach the caller,” she said.

Branney said callers generally understood the need to collect the information.

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“Healthline has an excellent safety record in ensuring people receive the right care, at the right place, at the right time. In fact, Healthline's most recent caller satisfaction survey showed 98.9 per cent were either highly satisfied or satisfied with the service.

“When asked to rate their level of comfort with the nurse, again, 98.9 per cent were very satisfied or satisfied.

“Healthline is staffed by registered nurses who are dedicated and caring and praised daily by callers for their empathy and professionalism,” Branney said.

Branney has written to the National Council of Women and encouraged the president to pay a visit to the Healthline centre.

Healthline has two aspects to its service. The Well Child service, a screening, education and support service for children and their families from birth to five years, as well as a triage service for people of all ages (newborns to the elderly) who are experiencing symptoms.

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