Manto launches plan to police public hospitals

Moves to police the quality of medical treatment and other services in public hospitals were announced by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang on Thursday.

Speaking at Tembisa Hospital on the East Rand, she said these measures will cover a broad spectrum of performance areas, including the safety of patients.

”When I visit the next time, I do not want to see patients lying on torn sheets, because there is money to buy sheets,” Tshabalala-Msimang said.

Besides safety, hospitals will be evaluated on the way the storage of medicine is handled, on how they prevent infection from one patient to another, and on cleanliness and catering.

Hospital staff will also have to improve the way they treat patients and handle complaints.

A total of 27 hospitals and four community health centres around the country, including Tembisa Hospital, will have to meet these performance standards. These will include Tembisa Hospital.

”We are going to extend to other facilities over time through a phased approach … this will strengthen support that might be overstretched if we were to cover all facilities at once,” said the minister.

Hospital CEOs will receive appraisal reports regularly to improve weak areas and to strengthen practice.

The first report on whether these hospitals are meeting the new performance standards will be available at the end of July. For the current financial year, R2,8-billion has been allocated for the revitalisation of 47 hospitals across the country.

Earlier, Tshabalala-Msimang walked through Tembisa Hospital, inspecting the different wards as well as the hospital’s new wing.

Hundreds of patients had gathered at the hospital from the early morning, fighting the bitter cold, in order to receive medication, with the majority of them queuing for antiretrovirals. Most complained that they had waited the entire day, only to be told, once they reached the counter, that their file had been lost.

”It’s a long wait, and it’s winter now. I cannot stand in this cold weather for the whole day,” a man in the queue said.

The new performance standard system will address problems such as these, Tshabalala-Msimang said. — Sapa

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