The World Health Organization yesterday joined South Africa’s Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) in launching the country's Complaints Management Call Centre which will receive and register public complaints relating to non-compliance with prescribed norms and standards for health establishments.
In recent years there has been increasing attention in South Africa on improving quality of health service and care. The Call Centre will provide the public a platform to lodge complaints about negative experiences which may include:
· Attitudes of staff,
· Respect for patient privacy and choice,
· Long waiting times and queues for administration, assessment, diagnosis, pharmacy, surgery and referral and transfer time,
· Cleanliness of hospitals and clinics, including buildings, grounds, amenities, and equipment,
· Patient safety and adverse events resulting from care given covering operations,
· Hospital acquired infections, and
· Non-availability of drugs and long waiting times encountered during their visits to health facilities.
The goal is to protect and promote the health and safety of users of health services according to Chairperson of the OHSC, Prof Lizo Mazwai. However, before lodging a complaint, “we recommend the public try talking with their health service provider as this is often the quickest and easiest way to address concerns or fix a problem. In the instance that he or she fails to adequately resolve the issue then the public can contact the Call Centre”. The Centre staff is trained to assess complaints, and among them are investigators, some of whom have clinical expertise.
In terms of voicing complaints, the Health Ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, requested the public to include as much information as possible. If someone has a complaint about a provided health service to himself or herself, a family member, or someone in their care, they should lodge a complaint through the call centre or by walking in.
Witnessing the launch of the Compliance Complaints Management Call Centre was reassuring of the task South Africa has set for itself to address issues of quality in health services in both public and private said Dr Rufaro Chatora. “The public complaints relating to non-compliance will lead to investigations that will identify and eliminate poor quality and unsafe practices and consequently ensure that safety and quality standards set for health care providers are implemented.
WHO has supported NDoH in development and finalization of the Norms and Standards Regulations, and will continue working with with national authorities and key partners on improving health services quality in South Africa.