Tshwane hospital gives patients a lesson on how to complain

Tshwane hospital gives patients a lesson on how to complainA Limpopo nurse was suspended after a video of her insulting a patient was leaked to the public. (File Photo).File Photo.

The Odi District Hospital outside Pretoria recently gave patients a lesson on how to complain at its annual Open Day.

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Did you know that a health facility must acknowledge receipt of a complaint within five days of it being lodged? (File Photo)
Did you know that a health facility must acknowledge receipt of a complaint within five days of it being lodged? (File Photo)

“We want to cement our relationship, and have an open door policy with the community so that we understand and hear their challenges during their visits to the hospital,” said hospital CEO Matilda Mekgoe, who added that keeping an open dialogue with patients was crucial to allowing the hospital to improve services.

Mekgoe is affectionately known as “Mma Mekgoe” or “Aus Tilly” by staff and patients and also stays in Mabopane where the hospital is located. The hospital receives referrals from about 19 clinics in Mabopane as well as neighbouring areas including Winterveld, Ga-Rankuwa and Soshanguve.

The hospital also arranged for Whileminah Skosana and members of her local luncheon club for the elderly to attend.

The club’s members are “regulars” at the hospital, said Skosana, who added she appreciated the hospital’s “courtesy managers” who have been placed at reception.

As part of the Open Day, attendees were educated on how to draft and submit grievances via the hospital’s suggestions boxes. Presentations were made alongside representatives from the Road Accident Fund and the Department of Home Affairs, which were offering their services.

The Department of Health’s National Complaints Management Protocol stipulates that patients lodge complaints at the health facility at which they occurred. This can be either through suggestion boxes of hospital management and must be acknowledged within five working days. Each health facility must have a written complaints procedure.

If a complaint is not resolved, it should be escalated to the district of provincial department of health. If the matter continues to be unresolved, patients can approach the public protector, human rights commission or the Ombud in the Office of the Health Standards Compliance.

National guidelines also require that health establishments must have forums for reviewing complaints, or that hospital boards or clinic committees take on this duty.

Timothy Malekane is a hospital patient and made the suggestion that the hospital board hold regular community meetings in which they provide feedback to the community about progress made at the health facility.