Healthline advice puts fewer kids in hospital

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 11/12/2012

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The MidCentral District Health Board continues to have the highest use of the Healthline phone service in the country, a trend that is credited with reducing the number of children appearing in Palmerston North Hospital's emergency department.

Central PHO general manager Joe Howells 20 per cent of the MidCentral population used the Healthline 0800 number..

The figures for the three months to June were up on the March figures, which showed that 18 per cent of people in MidCentral used Healthline, compared with 9.1 per cent nationally.

"Word has spread that this service is a very effective way of checking whether a health issue needs immediate attention or whether there are other alternatives that should be pursued," Mr Howells said.

He said there appeared to be a link between the "significant" increase in parents using Healthline during the past two years and the decrease in young children presenting at Palmerston North Hospital's emergency department.

The Central PHO covers the same area as MidCentral District Health Board: Palmerston North, Tararua, Horowhenua and Manawatu.

"Before anyone heads off to the hospital ED, they should call Healthline and check if that is the most appropriate thing to do," Mr Howells said.

"Obviously if a person's life is at risk, then the most appropriate thing to do is call an ambulance or go straight to the hospital ED. For everything else a call to Healthline is appropriate.

"We know that many people who come to the hospital ED would be best seen by their GP or should go to the primary care after-hours services such as City Doctors or Radius the Palms."

Mr Howells reminded parents that after-hours consultations were free for children under 6 throughout the district.

"Radius the Palms is open until 7pm and City Doctors to 10pm seven days a week, and all districts have some GP after-hours services until 7pm.

"While it's always best to use the general practice that your family is enrolled in, these are good services to meet the needs of families who can't get in to see their normal doctor or nurse, or when health issues crop up outside normal business hours."

The lowest use of Healthline in MidCentral among adults was in the 20- to-25-year-old age bracket, the figures show.

This could be because of a lower awareness among Palmerston North's student population, Mr Howells said.

Healthline can be contacted at any time on 0800 611 116.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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