Outsourced Family Planning and Vaccine Services Improve Patient Experience
Western Cape Government Health’s contracting out of family planning and vaccine services to the private sector has progressed significantly in the past year.
To date the Department of Health has contracts in place with 113 service providers. This number is expected to increase in the next phase with the provision of the correct tender documents.
Representatives from the service providers were present and commended Western Cape Government for its initiative.
One of the major projects tackled by the Business Development Unit in the past year was the call for service providers that will eventually grow smaller pharmacy businesses. The call for tenders was for the re-provisioning of family planning and vaccines in cooperation with the private sector, of which the agreement with Clicks was a forerunner.
This new private provider process to better manage the access to family planning and vaccines is a major part of strengthening strategic partnerships.
The project is in accordance with Western Cape Government’s Health Care 2030 vision, which aims to improve the patient experience.
The Western Cape Department of Health issued a Call for Service during November 2012 inviting all private health service providers within the Metro District, with relevant skills, experience and facilities to submit their applications to render family planning and/or immunisation services in partnership with the Western Cape Government.
The Department provides baby immunisation and contraceptive stock to private providers who then render these services in partnership with the Department at their respective private establishments. Patients pay a nominal fee for services rendered - maximum administration fee of R50 for family planning and R75 for baby immunisation services.
Since the start of the project in November 2012, to date the Department has concluded contracts with 113 private providers within the Metro District. Inspections and evaluations are currently underway for a second round of evaluations and contracts with approved providers will be concluded shortly.
One of the criteria is that service providers should be situated in areas that are easily accessible for the public, such as shopping centers or other public places. The project is an example of redress because it brings services into areas that were previously disadvantaged.
This partnership within the Western Cape has shown the following benefits:
- Strengthening the relationships between public and private healthcare sectors within the Western Cape.
- Increased access to care for family planning and immunisation services.
- Decrease in patient waiting time.
- Decongestion of state facilities.
- Some providers offer an appointment system allowing for effective time management.
- Formalisation of historical partnerships between private healthcare practitioners and the Department to supply family planning and baby immunisation stock.
- Partnerships formed in the Western Cape.
- By the end of the year the Department will be delivering the stock to the private providers’ premises.
- Enabled a way for nurses in partnership with the Department to apply for the Section 56(6) authorisation. Thereby allowing them to prescribe and dispense family planning medicine in terms of their agreement with the state.
These partnerships serve to establish a solid base for future partnerships involving the private sector, ultimately enhancing services delivery to all citizens of the Western Cape.
Minister Botha said: “These partnerships have massive future scope in improving our service coverage in areas across the province, and will eventually grow smaller pharmacy businesses. This is one of our many initiatives to shorten queues, give our overburdened staff more capacity to attend to patients with urgent health needs, and at the same time grow the economy. Through extending our vaccinations, we are ensuring greater coverage to protect children against life-threatening diseases to that they stay healthy. It fits into our government’s strategic objective to create wellness.”
He also added: “Western Cape Government’s vision is to become the best place to invest in the world. We want to create an enabling business environment that attracts investment and spurs growth. In order to grow the health economy and stretch the health rand Government needs to partner with the private sector, and vice versa.
One of the key ways in which the Western Cape Government has tried to improve healthcare quality is through innovative public-private partnerships. Partnerships leverage the talents of the private sector for the benefit of all our people. They are the wheels that turn the health sector from a money consumer to an economy driver.”