The Government is taking action to reduce the misery level of patients who utilize public health services.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on Wednesday, May 27, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, disclosed that strategies are being put in place to improve the client experience in all public health facilities.
“I have instructed the Chairmen of the four Regional Health Authorities to ensure that the misery index of persons within the health sector is reduced,” he said, adding that efforts are being made to improve customer service at all locations.
“We now have a draft customer care policy which will be going out for consultations shortly. We are saying to our health workers that we must be courteous and compassionate in how we treat our patients, even as we appeal to our clients and our patients not to abuse our health workers,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority, Dr. Andrei Cooke, explained the measures being taken in the regions to effect the changes requested by the Minister.
“The regions have undertaken a number of initiatives to reduce the misery index of our clients. An audit is being conducted in all four regions, which will be used to determine where the shortfalls lie and what critical areas need to be attended to,” he explained.
The Chairman said that the misery index of a patient is not just about diagnostic services, but also relates to the environment, efficiency, client satisfaction and customer service.
He pointed out that at the regular monthly meeting of the regional chairmen, a decision was taken to look at strategies to shorten waiting time as well as hospital stay and to ensure that diagnostic tests are done in the shortest possible time.
“We are also looking at putting things in place to give the patients a more holistic feeling while convalescing or while waiting, with lighter and more pleasant spaces,” he noted.
Dr. Cooke said that Patient Charters are to be posted in all public health institutions, so that patients would know their rights and that this process had already begun.
“We are looking at the client complaint mechanism in our central office. Many times patients are unwilling to complain, because they are afraid of possible repercussions. We are implementing client complaint hotlines and email addresses that will be up and running in all four regions by July 1,” he informed.
The regional health authorities are responsible for the operations of 24 hospitals and over 300 health centres islandwide.
By Peta-Gay Hodges
Photo by: JIS Photographer