Nurses Day 'hero': more Family Planning consults by phone

April 2015 Vol 15 (2)

More clients than ever before can consult with a nurse by phone following a new initiative that Family Planning nursing leader Rose Stewart helped develop.

ROSE STEWARTRose Stewart’s position description “Responsible for nursing staff clinical practice and professional development” sums up her role in just a few words, but it doesn’t describe her passion for making Family Planning clinic services as easy as possible for clients to access. For some clients, this now means they don’t need to come into a clinic at all.

National nurse advisor Stewart, alongside National Medical Director Dr Christine Roke, has driven the clinical aspects of a new phone consultation service, which allows an increasing number of clients to “be seen” by phone.

Phone consultation services require a balance between ease of access and appropriate clinical management.

“Phone consultation development was underpinned by our strategic focus to make it as easy as possible for young people, particularly rangatahi Māori, to use our services,” says Stewart.

Consulting by phone was originally only offered to clients wanting the emergency contraceptive pill or a contraceptive pill repeat. This service has now expanded by stages to include contraceptive pill repeats, emergency contraception, condoms, consultations prior to contraceptive implants or IUDs, and discussions of contraceptive options.

And there is more to come. These services are free for New Zealand residents 21 years or under and are paid for by debit or credit card for those aged 22 years or over.

Stewart is very focused on improving women’s choice and autonomy in sexual and reproductive health.

“Women have a lot to manage in their lives in terms of their fertility and they need all the help we can give them,” she says.

“For women who live remotely; women who cannot afford childcare or transport; women who cannot get time away from work to attend appointments – being able to have a phone consultation might make all the difference in the world.

“It could be the difference between rapid repeat pregnancies or a pregnancy gap chosen by the woman; heavy periods better managed that allow her to have fewer sick days away from work – there are all sorts of scenarios where providing that help can make a real difference in women’s lives.”

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