Provincial Health Department Plans to Improve Patient Experience
Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, has invited public inputs to his department's draft strategic vision and comprehensive service plan leading up to 2020.
The revised strategic framework is based on an assessment of achievements since the adoption of Healthcare 2010, a comprehensive service plan adopted in 2004, and subsequent shifts in the health environment.
"The department is performing relatively well but there is also a compelling case for change," said Minister Botha. "Although our health interventions are among the most successful in the country we are still not achieving the targets set for the Millennium Development Goals. We are determined to make major improvements by 2020."
"The goal is to ensure that patients are always treated with dignity and respect in a safe and clean environment. Waiting time should be acceptable and essential drugs must be available at all times. Our focus will be on improving the patient experience and we will be making a significant investment in our staff to achieve this."
Minister Botha said he was encouraged by a recent "values" survey among provincial health personnel which indicated that they want to achieve higher levels of caring, competence and respect in the service by minimising bureaucracy and accepting greater levels of accountability.
Department head, Professor Craig Househam, said new factors to be considered for the 2020 service platform include demographic shifts and increases in the quadruple burden of disease in the Western Cape: HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, physical injuries, non-communicable diseases (such as cardiovascular disease and mental illness) and women's and childhood illnesses.
"New technical challenges include Extreme Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB) and the increased load on acute psychiatric services as a result of the TIK (crystal methamphetamine) epidemic."
"We need to stretch the 'health rand' even further because of the increasing tension between limited resources and unlimited health needs. However, the broad thrust of Healthcare 2010 will remain largely unchanged, with more than 90% of initial patient contacts occurring at District Health Service level and only controlled referrals to acute and academic hospitals," Professor Househam said.
Minister Botha said the draft Healthcare 2020 strategy is also driven by the provincial health strategy objective of "Increasing Wellness", which signals an important conceptual shift from focusing on management of disease to the promotion of wellness.
Professor Househam added that creative partnerships would be built locally and internationally with role players in the private sector, civil society, higher education, labour movement and other spheres of government: "In recent years, non-profit and community-based organisations have become increasingly important as providers of community-based services."
The department has undertaken that all stakeholder submissions will be carefully considered and that the final draft of the strategy will be published.