News : Free Health Advice to 1300 Locals
June 7, 2012 -- Wanganui people have been quick to use a national medical freephone help service.
Healthline offers an 0800 call centre that lets people get medical advice over the phone, and in the first quarter of this year locals made more than 1300 calls to it.
Davis Lemke, Medibank Health Solutions NZ general manager, said that represented 1 per cent of all calls to Healthline between January and March.
Mr Lemke said the calls included questions about vomiting, rashes, and colds in children while others related to questions about medicines, headaches, chest pain and insect bites and stings.
The service is funded by the Ministry of Health and provided under contract by Medibank Health Solutions in association with St John and handles an average of 1000 calls every day.
Mr Lemke said when people were injured or became ill after-hours, or if they were far from their home, it could be hard to know what to do.
"Should you call an ambulance when it might be something minor? Should you go to the emergency department? It's good to know Healthline is at hand at times like these," he said.
The service is staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week by registered nurses who can advise about what to do in cases of sickness, injury or medical emergency.
He said depending on a person's symptoms, callers might be encouraged to seek medical treatment or be given advice on how they could manage a condition or minor injury. Occasionally, the nurse would call 111 for them.
The nurses also use an electronic health library to offer general health information to callers. They can also tell callers where to find their nearest GP after-hours service, hospital emergency department, pharmacy or out-of-hours dental surgery.
Healthline began on a pilot basis in four district health board areas in 2000, then was rolled out nationally in 2005.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Thursday, June 07, 2012
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