National has delivered on another election pledge with today’s announcement that Plunketline will be funded to enable it to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A media release from Health Minister Tony Ryall says:
The extended service is being funded through a grant of $3.75 million over 15 months to the end of March next year ($3 million per annum). By that time, a review of Well Child parent information programmes will have been completed and new contracting arrangements will be in place.
The parent information review could extend support services to include e-mail and online information and chatrooms.
The help line is an invaluable service for parents and caregivers of young children and the 24 hour/seven day service from Plunket nurses is much better than the general health helpline which the previous government funded instead.
There may well be a place for on-line asssistance too but any of these services must be in addition to not a replacement for home and clinic visits.
If that much over and misused word icon could be applied to any institution in New Zealand it is Plunket.
For more than 100 years it has provided an invaluable service to families and one of its strengths is that Plunket nurses go to every home which gives them an insight they couldn’t get in a clinic.
Equally important, because they provide a universal service to every home and every child their is no stigma about their visits in the way that there might be with other agencies such as Public Health or welfare.
I’m delighted with the Plunketline funding and hope it is just the start of policies which will not just maintain but strengthen the services and support provided to families from Plunket.
If, as is inevitable, this will cost more then funding could be diverted from the Families Commission.