Health Hotline Proves to Be What the Doctor Ordered
5 June 2013
The Western Cape Government Health call centre that was initiated by provincial Health Minister, Theuns Botha, in August 2012, has proven so successful that it will be rolled out across the province in the next three years.
The telephone and text message complaints hotline was started as a pilot project at the following eight facilities:
- Tygerberg Hospital
- Helderberg Hospital, Somerset West
- New Somerset Hospital, Mouille Point
- Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre
- Site B Community Health Centre, Khayelitsha
- Retreat Community Health Centre
- TC Newman Community Development Centre, Paarl
- Wesfleur Hospital, Atlantis
In February this year it was further expanded to 54 facilities in the Metro. This includes all Community Health Centres, Community Day Centres and district hospitals in the Metro district.
Next year the project will roll out to all other remaining facilities in the Metro:
- Two tertiary hospitals: Groote Schuur Hospital and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
- One regional hospital: Mowbray Maternity Hospital
- Two TB hospitals: Brooklyn Chest, DP Marais
- Four psychiatric hospitals: Alexandra, Lentegeur, Stikland, Valkenberg
- One rehabilitation hospital: Western Cape Rehab Centre
In 2015 it will be expanded to the Cape Winelands, 2016 to Eden and the Central Karoo, and in 2017 to Overberg and the West Coast.
The budget allocation is R125 000 per month.
An analysis of the medium that clients prefer, to log a complaint or compliment, reveal that callers prefer making a phone call.
The numbers of calls are far in the majority, compared to text messages or e-mails. The April numbers illustrate this: 247 calls versus 45 e-mails.
The most complaints are lodged between 9:00 and 12:00. The reason for this is that clients queue early morning so when facilities open, there is a long queue of people needing to be attended to, especially at the pharmacy.
Overall the majority of complaints that exceed all other complaints are about waiting times. Second in line, but not nearly as many complaints, are about attitude towards patients.
In the 10-month period August 2012 to May 2013, the call centre received more than 1 300 complaints, of which almost 1 100 were resolved. A breakdown of the major complaint categories, are as follows:
- 852 waiting
- 364 staff attitude
- 20 billing
- 15 cleanliness
- 10 visiting
- Six security
- Five health
- One medical services
- One community safety
The Department addresses these complaints in different ways. The complaints have revealed that patients do not want to be coded as green and wait for five hours. The result is that the department has identified a need for more education and awareness about the triage system.
Furthermore, the majority of patient queues are patients 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: ”This is exactly the value of the complaints line. It enables the department to identify the facilities that face the most challenges. Now we can target our resources towards specific problems. The success of the pilot has proven that we can roll out the call centre to service all facilities across the province. Each financial year another district will be added to the service with the aim to offer 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 email@example.com
Spokesperson for Theuns Botha, Minister of Health
Tel: 021 483 4426
Cell: 082 771 8834