A campaign to save the Dunedin-based National Poisons
Centre has struck a chord with parents, Dunedin North MP Dr
David Clark says.
The centre faces amalgamation with six other 0800 helplines
under a merger pushed by the Ministry of Health.
Dr Clark had received supportive feedback from parents since
launching an online petition on Monday, which yesterday had
more than 5200 signatures.
''I am not surprised. The 0800 Poison Helpline is a trusted
service. Expert toxicologists are on the end of the line
''It is the primary source for poisoning information for both
parents and paramedics, with Plunket recommending it as the
first point of call for parents in emergency situations.''
The World Health Organisation recommends poison centres
''The proposed change makes no sense. [Health Minister] Tony
Ryall needs to explain what information he has that the World
Health Organisation is lacking.''
National Poisons Centre operations manager Lucy Shieffelbien
said the centre was encouraged by community support for its
work and desire to remain independent.
''If it's not broke, then why fix it? This is something that
hasn't been done internationally. Poison centres remain
independent overseas, so I'm not sure why New Zealand wants
to be different.''
Mr Ryall's office declined to comment this week, referring
the Otago Daily Times to the Ministry of Health.
The University of Otago reportedly subsidises the service to
the tune of $1.3 million annually.
The ODT asked the Ministry of Health whether the subsidy was
taken into account, and whether consideration was given to
the likelihood a commercial provider would reduce the level
of service. The ministry said commercial sensitivity
constrained it from commenting. It was ''very aware'' that
poison calls needed to be answered quickly.
''This is not about achieving a single phone number but
having services capable of ensuring, behind the scenes,
whichever part of the National Telehealth Service you contact
is the front door able to get you to the right place and
information,'' the ministry said in a statement.
As well as answering crisis calls, the poisons centre
provides specialist advice to government agencies on matters
that include national security and military deployments. It
also maintains a comprehensive database.
The Australian-owned Medibank Health Solutions New Zealand is
holding talks with other providers to lead the new mega