Delays for people desperately trying to get through to Healthline were compounded by a Spark fault.
The fault has now been fixed, but Herald readers say they are still experiencing long waits calling Healthline today.
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said Healthline was among one of the Spark's customers impacted by the fault yesterday. The service is already experiencing four times as many calls than usual due to concerns about coronavirus.
The fault which coincided with an extremely busy time where it was receiving four times more calls than usual meant people could not got through on its phone lines for a short period of time. Callers already on hold were also made to continue to hold.
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One Herald reader said she had waited on hold for three hours before finally hanging up.
The reader was frustrated that people experiencing symptoms could not get the advice they needed.
Others were met with pre-recorded messages saying it could not take their calls before hanging up on them.
Healthline urgently worked with Spark to resolve the fault as a matter of urgency services were back up in under 30 minutes, the spokesperson said.
However, another reader said he had been on hold to Healthline since 11.30am on Tuesday and was still waiting.
"There's no pre-screening to filter the more serious cases from all the other idiots clogging up the lines. Neither is there any call-back facility in case you physically can't hold the line for such a long period of time."
Meanwhile PlunketLine manager Anne-Marie Morris said the service was managing its slightly higher call volumes and reassured parents seeking advice about their children aged under 5 that they would not have long waits before the call was answered.
She said they did experience occasional spikes at certain times such as after Ministry of Health announcements on coronavirus.