Better service promise for hospital, clinic patients

Department of health superintended Doctor Thobile Mbengashe
Department of health superintended Doctor Thobile Mbengashe
Image: Sino Majangaza

The provincial department of health has formulated a plan to deal with patients who have to sleep on floors and chairs at Butterworth Hospital because they are not attended to on the day they arrive.

The plan, according to the department of health superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe, includes hiring more doctors and extending working hours at the hospital pharmacy.

Mbengashe said some patients came to hospitals not because they were sick or wanted to be seen by a doctor, but because they were “simply collecting their medicine”.

“As a department we are saying they must be able to be given their medicine and go,” he said.

Part of the solution would be to have doctors at clinics, “even if they do not come every day”. “We are now realising the patients have expectations of what service should be and they appreciate having doctors. They would prefer that.

“They are worried that when they go to the clinic, they will still be referred to the hospital, so they decide to bypass the clinics and go straight to the hospital,” he said.

The onus was on the department to ensure people trusted the clinics, which also did not always order medicine stocks on time.

“Nurses are well trained to manage patients.

“Many of them have not been trained in maintaining the inventories of their own stock in clinics,” Mbengashe said.

“We are trying to make sure that every clinic now has an assistant pharmacist whose responsibilities will be to make sure that medicine is available at their clinics.”

One of the department’s biggest challenges was seeing to patients who needed specialist services “because they have to catch transport to Frere Hospital. Some prefer to come overnight and sleep there, which is a big problem”.

He said it was wrong that patients were forced to sleep in waiting areas of a hospital.

“Anyone who came in there and spent the whole night in order to be serviced the following day [has suffered] a gross dereliction of duty from our team.

“That is extremely unacceptable. It is something we cannot defend. Something we cannot justify,” he said.