Health Hotline proves to be what the doctor ordered

Theuns Botha MPP

Western Cape Minister of Heath

Today, Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha visited his provincial department’s call centre in the CBD. Patients can call this hotline if they have a complaint about the services they received at certain health facilities in the province.

Minister Botha launched the health call centre in August 2012 and this initiative has proven to be so successful that it will be rolled out across the province in the next 3 years.

This telephone and text message complaints hotline was first started as a pilot project at the following 8 facilities:

  1. Tygerberg Hospital
  2. Helderberg Hospital, Somerset West
  3. New Somerset Hospital, Mouille Point
  4. Mitchells Plain Community Health Centre
  5. Site B Community Health Centre, Khayelitsha
  6. Retreat Community Health Centre
  7. TC Newman Community Day Centre, Paarl
  8. Wesfleur Hospital, Atlantis

In February this year it was further expanded to 54 facilities in the Metro, including all Community Health Centre’s, Community Day Centre’s and district hospitals.

Next year the project will be rolled out to the other remaining facilities in the Metro, which include:

  • 2 tertiary hospitals: Groote Schuur Hospital and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
  • 1 regional hospital: Mowbray Maternity Hospital
  • 2 TB hospitals: Brooklyn Chest, DP Marais
  • 4 psychiatric hospitals: Alexandra, Lentegeur, Stikland, Valkenberg
  • 1 rehabilitation hospital: Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre

Finally, in 2015 it will be expanded to the Cape Winelands, in 2016 to Eden and the Central Karoo, and in 2017 to Overberg and the West Coast.

The budget allocation for this initiative is R125 000 per month.

Between August 2012 to May 2013, the call centre received more than 1300 complaints of which almost 1100 were resolved – a resolution rate of 85%.

An analysis of these complaints reveals that citizens prefer to log a complaint or compliment by making a phone call. The numbers of calls are far in the majority, compared to text messages or e-mails.   For example, in April 247 calls were logged versus 45 e-mails.

Most complaints are also lodged between 9:00 and 12:00. Mainly because the majority of clients queue early morning, which means that when facilities open, there is a long queue of people needing to be attended to, especially at pharmacies.

A breakdown of the type of complaints received between August 2012 and May 2013 is as follows:

852 long waiting times in queues
364 staff attitudes
20 billing problems
15 cleanliness at facilities
10 visiting times and hours
6 securities
5 general health issues
1 medical aid services
1 community safety (security)

The types of complaints received by the call centre have revealed a need for greater education and awareness about the triage system used at health facilities.

Furthermore, most patients in queues are waiting to collect medication. It is for this reason that Minister Botha is driving initiatives such as the delivery of chronic medication at work and home sites. He also encourages patients to adhere to scheduled appointments.

Minister Botha says: “The complaints hotline has enabled the provincial department to identify the greatest challenges facing both patients and staff working at our health facilities. Now we can target our resources towards addressing these problems. The success of this pilot has also revealed the need to roll out this complaint hotline to cover   all facilities across the province. This is why a new district will be added to the service during each financial year with the aim of offering the service to all patients across the province by 2018.”

The call centre number is 0860 142 142. To send a text message, send a “Please Call Me” to 076 878 4517 or e-mail service@westerncape.gov.za

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