When the nine Australian governments actually get their heads together and agree on something, it generally helps people for the better.
The national telephone health helpline, healthdirect Australia, is one example.
In the past week, the service received its 4 millionth call, six years after it was established by the Council of Australian Governments.
The service was established to help all Australians – regardless of location or time of day or night – to get access to trusted, professional health information 24/7.
“I called healthdirect when my 4-year-old daughter had a coughing fit late at night this week and was asked clear questions and provided with practical, easy to understand information” says Jessica Gobby from Tom Price in Western Australia.
“This reassured me that I was providing her with the right kind of treatment without having to leave home and spend time in an Emergency Department (ED) waiting room with two young children.”
“I also contacted the service over the weekend about treatment for a lump on my 15-month old daughter’s head following a fall. The healthdirect nurse was extremely helpful and in this instance advised me to go to my nearest ED.”
“I use the service regularly to get health care advice for my girls so trust it completely. It provides me with an extra layer of assurance and saves me from unnecessary time spent in our nearest ED,” added Jessica who lives in the Pilbara, 1,800 kilometres from Perth.
“I have the number on speed dial for the next time either of my girls is sick or hurts themselves! It’s an invaluable service for people like me in a rural community.”
There are three parts to the service:
healthdirect Australia– which provides 24/7 telephone health advice and information from a Registered Nurse to people in NSW, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and the NT
After Hours GP Helpline– this is an additional support available for some users of the service. The caller will first speak with the RN who will transfer the call to a GP if considered appropriate and necessary
Pregnancy, Birth & Baby– another 24/7 helpline to give general advice and counseling about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting in the baby’s first year. It will also help direct mums and dads to more specialist help if needed.
The CEO of healthdirect Australia, Colin Seery, said that reaching the 4 million milestone highlights the value of telephone health services.
Anyone can access the healthdirect Australia by calling 1800 022 222.
It is jointly funded by the Federal, state and territory governments.