20 May 2014

Assurances over Maori quitline

6:32 am on 20 May 2014

A Maori health organisation says it's important tangata whenua are involved in selecting a successful provider when several health help lines are amalgamated.

The Ministry of Health plans to have one helpline for six different health services, including the alcohol and drug help line, a depression support line, and the National Poisons Crisis line.

Quitline chief executive Paula Snowden of Ngapuhi said Maori will still get direct access to te reo speakers and she believes its service will remain efficient.

She said there will still be individual health helplines such as Quitline and problem gambling support because that's what people want and need.

Ms Snowden said the integration was needed as it will give more value for the services which are very costly.

Rapid response vital

The kaiwhakahaere or manager for Maori health at Hapai Te Hauora Tapui, Papatuanuku Nehi of Ngapuhi, said in urgent cases where people need counselling for suicide it's important they still get a rapid response.

She said research shows that when Maori do seek help it's often when they're in crisis mode and it's vital they get the services they need at the right time.

Papatuanuku Nahi said if there is a situation where the person who needs help has to push a myriad of numbers on the phone to select a service, it could be a barrier for them.

She said because Maori are disproportionately harmed from a range of issues it is important that the new integrated service caters to them and is cultural appropriate.