Following a significant fall in demand, the Heart Foundation will close its telephone Helpline service from next Friday, October 22.
The Heart Foundation Helpline has provided heart health information and cardiac support to Australians for more than 20 years.
Significant changes in the nation’s health system and the rise of telehealth, as well as the establishment of 24/7 government-based Health-direct and Nurse-on-call and private health fund helplines, have reduced the demand for the service.
The availability of increased telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, has significantly contributed to the reduction of calls to the Heart Foundation Helpline service, the foundation says.
In the 13 months to April 2021, more than 70 million telehealth consultations took place under the Medicare Benefits Scheme, with most general practitioners participating in this modality of care.
Heart Foundation interim Group CEO, Professor Garry Jennings, said the Heart Foundation had blazed the trail for telehealth, establishing the helpline at a time when few such services were available, particularly in remote and regional settings.
“We are proud of what we have achieved with a small but dedicated team of professionals who have answered hundreds of thousands of calls over the past 20 years, providing practical advice and emotional support to Australians with heart disease,” Jennings said.
“We sincerely thank our helpline staff for the kindness, commitment and expertise they have offered directly to our community.”
Helpline callers will now be referred to alternative medical services including Health-direct, Nurse-on-call and their doctor for immediate support.
A great deal of information is also available at the Heart Foundation website.