A dose of hope for horror hospitals

2013-07-14 14:02

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Supplies will be ordered directly.

The Gauteng health department has given itself three months to sort out the mess in its hospitals.

With the help of the province’s three medical universities, the department has come up with an operational plan it hopes will guarantee its major hospitals have the equipment, drugs and medical supplies they need to give patients top-class care.

The plan will be rolled out in 20 of Gauteng’s training, regional and specialist hospitals.

One of its central features is empowering managers and cutting red tape so, in future, administrators will be able to make urgent clinical and financial decisions without having to wait for approval from head office.

Chief executive officers will now have the power to authorise the buying of equipment to the value of no more than R500?000 at their hospital.

They will also be able to order medicine and medical supplies directly from suppliers, and they’ll even be able to buy food if the hospital’s kitchen runs out.

The money will come from a contingency fund that will be 3% of the hospital’s annual budget.

In an interview with City Press on Friday, Gauteng’s health MEC Hope Papo said: “There will be no reason why hospitals would run out of drugs or sanitisers because

the money would be there for them to purchase it without getting approval from the department.”

This was an important move because “it empowers clinicians from the department heads to the ward level”.

Gauteng will be first province in South Africa to give hospital managers such powers.

Currently, if hospitals have run out of medical supplies or need equipment, CEOs have to inform the department, which then takes the order on their behalf.

It sometimes takes months before the orders are approved.

Jack Bloom, the DA’s health spokesperson in Gauteng, welcomed the decision and said it was long overdue.

“This will ensure that services aren’t disrupted in our hospitals,” he said.

Although hospital managers will have the power to deal directly with suppliers, they will still have to get approval from the various committees that deal with whatever they need to order.

The operational plan dictates that various committees will be set up by the end of this month to act as gatekeepers

These are:

»?A drug committee, which will monitor availability of drugs so that stock depletion is prevented;

»?An equipment committee, which will monitor whether essential equipment is available and functioning properly; and

»?A clinical committee, where heads of department will discuss the basic things that need to happen in order for their hospitals to function properly.

Papo explained that the committees will play a crucial role in ensuring that people do not abuse and corrupt the system.

“We don’t want a situation where people are ordering machines just because they can. They need to show to the committees why they need those machines and even the committees will have to consult the essential equipment list when they place orders to ensure that there is a need,” he said.

Five things that really work

City Press visited four Gauteng hospitals this week to see whether the province’s impressive audit results correlate with patients’ experiences.

Here are five innovative – and occasionally very simple – ideas hospitals are using to improve their services to the public.

1 At Leratong, Far East Rand and Pholosong hospitals, security is tight: the moment you arrive, you’re greeted by guards who want to know where you’re going.

The guards at Leratong have walkie-talkies and communicate constantly with other security personnel in the hospital.

2 Leratong employs ushers in bright yellow safety vests, emblazoned with the words “If you need help, ask me”.

This is an easy way to help patients or visitors who may not know where to go or what to ask.

3 Also at Leratong, patients receive a sticker as soon as they arrive.

This lists the time of arrival and the hospital unit they’re visiting.

The stickers really help ushers and other staff.

4 Information is king at Leratong, which clearly leads Gauteng’s helpfulness stakes.

Posters decorate the corridors, using simple language to explain medical procedures, treatments and healthcare tips.

5 One small change at the pharmacy has made Leratong far more user friendly.

Now patients receive two doses of medication at once, meaning queues are shorter at month-end. – Nokuthula Manyathi

Gauteng health at a glance

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