Seventy percent of public health facilities do not have ‘€œpositive and caring attitudes’€ towards patients, while two-thirds do not have adequate safety measures.

This is according to the ‘€˜National Health Care Facilities Baseline Audit’€™, which was quietly released via the Department of Health’€™s website yesterday.

The release follows a presentation on the audit by Health Director General Precious Matsoso to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Tuesday (19 March).

The Democratic Party has disputed the findings, as they believe the Western Cape is under-rated. The Western Cape is ranked fourth from the top.

The audit took an entire year to complete, with researchers visiting every one of the country’€™s 3 880 public health clinics, community health centres and hospitals to evaluate them on six ‘€œpriority areas’€. These are: positive and caring attitudes, waiting times, cleanliness, patient safety, infection control and the availability of medicines and supplies.

On average, facilities scored best on waiting areas with over two-thirds (68%) complying with ‘€œvital measures’€. However, after that compliance plunged, with slightly more than half (54%) being compliant with medicine availability. Only half were clean and had adequate infection control.

Despite its current woes, Gauteng’€™s facilities scored best (69% being compliant with the six measures), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (68%). Bottom of the pile was the Northern Cape (40%) and Limpopo (46%).

Worst staff attitudes towards patients were found in the Northern Cape, North West and Eastern Cape.

The audit ranked the quality of facilities in the JT Gaetsewe (Kgalagadi) district around Kuruman the worst in the country while Tshwane’€™s facilities came out on top.

Clinics scored considerably lower than hospitals on all measures, but were particularly poor when it came to staff attitude to patients. Three-quarters of clinic staff failed to show ‘€œpositive and caring attitudes’€ to patients as opposed to almost half of hospital staff.

With respect to infrastructure, Ugu and Umzinyathi District Municipalities (KwaZulu-Natal), Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality (Gauteng) and Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality (North West) were all found to be three-quarters complaint with vital measures.

The audit also found weaknesses in clinical services, which includes pharmacy and laboratory services, with less than 40% being compliant with ‘€œvital measures’€.

Health spokesperson Popo Maja said that although many of the findings were negative, ‘€œthe department has had the courage to identify the problems and is committed to addressing them’€.

‘€œThis is a baseline study to research and record the problems in all health facilities, which has never been done before,’€ said Maja.

‘€œWe are committed to re-engineering the entire health service to ensure better services for people from the primary healthcare level.’€

Meanwhile, Health Director General Precious Matsoso said many health facility managers seemed to have lost basic problem-solving skills, failing to fix basic services such as broken water pipes.

‘€œI have started to contract with local FET Colleges to fix a lot of broken things at clinics and hospitals, such as plumbing, furniture.’€  

Access the full report at http://www.doh.gov.za/docs/reports/2013/Healthcare.pdf

‘€“ Health-e News Service.

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