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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 22 November 2007) . . Page.. 3794 ..


Ms Gallagher: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

The number of calls received by healthdirect Australia (previously Health First) for the ACT is as follows:

2001 – information not available

2002 – 50,362

2003 – 48,237

2004 – 46,800

2005 – 43,963

2006 – 48,744

2007-YTD – 42,627

It is not possible to report on the number of calls that resulted in a referral to The Canberra Hospital alone, since referrals are made to “an Emergency Department” rather than to a specific institution.

McKesson Asia Pacific Pty Ltd.

The Commonwealth Government subsidises the operational costs at the level of 40%. It also provides governance funding and funding for the establishment of the National Health Call Centre Network.

ACT Health has allocated approximately $1.5 million excluding GST to fund healthdirect Australia this year.

The following amounts have been allocated for promotion of the service:

2001:

$260,000

2002:

$100,000

2004:

$36,000

Significant promotional activities were undertaken in 2001/2002 at the inception of the service, including print and television advertising and the production of brochures and fridge magnets. These materials lasted until 2004 when another set of brochures was produced. In 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007) the only expense was a bold listing in the White pages, although other activities such as visits to schools and community organisations were undertaken during those periods.

Health call centres are highly sensitive to advertising. Unexpected or unplanned peaks in demand resulting from publicity can and do adversely affect their capacity to meet agreed service levels, and peaks in one jurisdiction can affect service levels in all jurisdictions. Because of this, the States and Territories participating in the NHCCN and the Commonwealth have agreed that advertising for the service will be co-ordinated by mutual agreement. Further, peaks which drive demand above planned levels can have a significant impacts on cost. Calls above projected levels are charged at a premium in recognition of the need to increase staffing and infrastructure levels to cope with increased demand. It takes some three months on average to recruit and train registered nurses for the call centre environment, so it is essential that demand be appropriately managed to ensure that service levels and costs can be maintained.

The number of complaints received by healthdirect for the ACT is:


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