Gauteng establishes complaints call centre for patients

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Johannesburg - The Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development has established a central complaints management call centre where people can lodge their complaints about public health facilities.

The call centre, which started to operate on Tuesday at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, will be used to receive and manage complaints from members of the public.

The numbers for the call centre are (011) 488-4394 or 4351 or 4366 or 4445.

The centre, which will be managed by staff members, will operate day and night, seven days a week.

Gauteng MEC for Health Qedani Mahlangu ensured that the complaints lodged with the centre will be processed within 48 hours.

"The call centre will link up with the Managing Medical Officer and Institutional Clinical Managers on duty on a 24/7 basis, the complaints will be categorised and managed appropriately.

"We urge you to assist us by coming forward with information, where patients are being mistreated," Ms Mahlangu said, adding that the drug unavailability and out of stock consumables from health facilities can also be reported through this call centre after hours.

Launching the department's operation 'Kuyasheshwa-La' on Thursday, which aims to deliver the best accessible health care to residents, Ms Mahlangu urged the public to report anything untoward at hospitals.

"We are relying on you to bring these things to our attention and are going to take action because some of these things are avoidable," she said.

Ms Mahlangu warned that the department will not tolerate the ill treatment of patients and negligence by some health professionals; where in some instances it has lead to the death of patients in some hospitals.

She said during her visit to various provincial hospitals, she discovered a number of challenges facing facilities including the failure to procure adequate medical equipment.

"Through the operation Kuyasheshwa-La, regional pharmacists shall actively support clinics and community health centres to replenish their stocks of essential drugs as a matter of urgency and ensure stock level management in these facilities," she said.

The MEC said that central hospital Chief Executive Officers shall identify one or two pharmacy assistants per central hospital, who will be seconded to regional pharmacies to assist the regional pharmacists.

The department will further introduce a Mobile Therapeutic Response Vehicle to provide uninterrupted supply of drugs at all facilities after hours.

"The shortage of medication in hospitals is a concern including the procurement of adequate equipment like scans, which are not working and want to stabilise the supply of drugs, to ensure that clinics do not operate without essential drugs.

"We also want to improve the filling system and where there are best experiences in other facilities, we will share them. We are looking at employing unemployed graduates and matriculants to improve filing management.

"It shouldn't take an hour to locate a patient's file, like it is happening right now," Ms Mahlangu said.

The team will start on 1 July 2008 and expected to deliver within the next six months.