Zuma: ‘Ideal clinics’ will soon be a reality

2014-11-18 13:53

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The government has introduced a new plan to ensure that by 2019 patients who go to the country’s 3 500 clinics do not wait for more than two hours for assistance, President Jacob Zuma has said.

Zuma today launched the second phase of Operation Phakisa, which is aimed at improving service delivery in different sectors, at the presidential guesthouse in Pretoria.

This phase is dedicated to improving healthcare services by creating “ideal” clinics.

Zuma told delegates – among them premiers, MECs, ministers and public and private healthcare professionals – that he would ensure the programme succeeded by taking a “personal interest” and receiving regular progress reports.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi earlier told delegates that out of the 3 500 clinics in the country only 10 were viewed as “ideal” by his department.

Both Zuma and Motsoaledi bemoaned how in many clinics patients who relied on the government for healthcare were made to wait hours and some spent an entire day waiting in queues, only to be told to return the next day.

Motsoaledi said his department had found that one of the major problems that leads to bad services at clinics was the appointment of the “wrong people in jobs they do not know”.

But this, said Zuma, could become a thing of the past and many of the country’s clinics had been identified for major infrastructure and human resource shake-ups.

“The ideal clinic realisation and maintenance operation under the Phakisa programme seeks to transform all our public sector clinics into ideal clinics, which provide good quality care in all our communities, and no community will not benefit from this methodology,” said Zuma.

People using clinics increased from 67 million in 1998 to more than 130 million in 2013 and Zuma said there had been major improvements in the country’s primary healthcare system.

“However we cannot rest on our laurels ... South Africa remains an unequal society because of the apartheid history of exclusion and marginalisation of the black majority. The inequality translates to inequality in healthcare services as well with rural areas and former homelands being more deprived,” he said.

So, what’s an ideal clinic?

» It opens on time and doesn’t close until the last patient has been helped – even if that’s beyond normal closing hours;

» It provides community-based health promotion and disease prevention programmes in collaboration with the community;

» It is very clean, promotes hygiene and takes all precautionary measures to prevent the spread of diseases; and,

» It has the basic necessities available – like essential medicines.

Zuma said a team of 164 experts, among them senior managers from the government, the private sector, organised labour, academia and civil society had met over the last five weeks to devise and help with the government’s plan of realising “ideal” clinics.

Zuma said the team “has worked hard to produce detailed plans to ensure that 80% of patients will have a positive experience of care, and that 90% of patients will be satisfied with their waiting time, and that no patient will spend more than three hours at the clinic, or more than two hours waiting for services”.

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