Public Health and Health Systems

Western Cape health pilots patient complaint line

Certain patients living the Western Cape and making use of public health services will be able to lodge their complaints via a system which enables patients to call, text or e-mail a complaint with a same-day response.

PRESS RELEASE: The Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, today announced a pilot project to address patient complaints. This is an initiative by Minister Botha to create a communication channel for patients who are unhappy about health services, and to receive a quick response.

Patients will be able to call, text or e-mail a complaint and receive a same day response. A call centre has been set up to handle these complaints. Call centre agents will log received calls, text messages and e-mails electronically. The complainant will then receive a reference number via SMS.

The first stage is that call centre agents will try and resolve the complaint within 20 minutes. Should the complaint require further attention, the details will be sent to the official at the facility tasked to deal with call centre complaints. The facility official will then contact the complainant and provide progress or the outcome on a web-based monitoring system within two hours.

Once the complaint is resolved, the complainant will receive another SMS to confirm the outcome, and clients will be phoned to confirm if they are satisfied. If they are not satisfied, they will be informed of other avenues, for example the Independent Complaints Advisory Commission.

Initially this will be a three month pilot project, which commenced last week, on 1 August, and will run till end October. Minister Botha says: “The project will then be evaluated. With the data and information collated at that point, we will be able to make informed decisions on

the future handling of patient complaints. The intention is to expand the service to all facilities across the province.”

The eight facilities identified for the pilot are facilities where the majority of our complaints originate from. They are:

  *     Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre

  *     Khayelitsha Site B Community Health Centre

  *     Retreat Community Health Centre

  *     Somerset Hospital

  *     Tygerberg Hospital

  *     Helderberg Hospital, Somerset West

  *     Wesfleur Hospital, Atlantis

  *     TC Newman Community Day Centre, Paarl

This project does not replace the current complaints procedure, but is another channel to inform the department of unsatisfactory service.Patients can still place written complaints or compliments in boxes at their facilities, or contact the facility manager.

The monthly cost of the pilot is R50 000 per month. The call centre will operate from 7 am till 7 pm.

Minister Botha says:   “In my term I have focused on the patient experience. It is imperative that we find a way to address patient complaints. In the past year we have spent time and resources into researching the most efficient way to address patient complaints, and indicators are that the call centre can be a successful medium.

“I want to encourage patients to call, text or e-mail the call centre so that we can address your concerns in a manner beneficial to you. We will only be able to expand this project if the call centre proves successful.”

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See attached poster for more details.

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