What you can expect from the health department’s dream clinic

2014-02-09 06:00

The national department of health has come up with a plan to fix the country’s public clinics through a concept it refers as the “ideal clinic”.

The concept involves overhauling the primary healthcare system and introducing new changes that will improve the quality of services in these facilities.

Ten elements are at the core of this concept, including how the administration of the clinic should function; what policies, protocol and clinical guidelines should be followed by staff; what service a clinic should offer; as well as infrastructure requirements.

A patient at an ideal clinic can expect a friendly reception from staff and to also find the facility clean with proper sanitation.

Queues should move swiftly while essential medicine like antiretrovirals, TB medication and antibiotics should always be available.

The concept was developed after an audit into public healthcare painted a grim picture of the state of clinics and the quality of services offered in these facilities.

The findings showed the quality of services at the clinics was far below average when compared with hospitals.

Results revealed clinics performed much lower than hospitals in the six priority areas of quality – cleanliness, waiting times, infection control, patient safety, drug stock-out and staff attitude.

For instance, clinics scored 25% for staff attitude and hospitals scored 47%. They scored 30% on patient safety, compared with 52% for hospitals.

The national health facilities audit was conducted between May 2011 and May 2012.

Last week, while launching the new quality assurance inspectorate in Pretoria, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi admitted the audit findings on clinics were very worrying.

But he noted it did not come as a surprise to him because “clinics have long been neglected in this country while hospitals were prioritised”.

The dismal performance of the clinics during the audit also prompted the auditors to make a recommendation clinics should be given urgent attention as they are the first port of call for patients.

Auditors also noted dental and therapeutic services such as audiology, speech therapy and psychology were lacking across the board on the primary healthcare level and that this also needed to be addressed urgently as it is extremely costly for patients to access these services through the private sector.

Motsoaledi assured South Africans government was taking the recommendation made by the auditors seriously. As a result, the department has developed the concept of the ideal clinic.

“There are many other changes we have and are in the process of introducing like the contracting of GPs at the primary healthcare level. Some other may not yet be visible because they have been happening silently,” he said.

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