Hospital boards challenged to champion communities' needs

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pretoria - KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo has challenged hospital board chairpersons to champion their community's health needs.

Dhlomo was addressing 59 board chairpersons of the 70 established hospitals in the province during a meeting he convened with the aim of strengthening relations and to clarify the roles boards play in the delivery of health care.
During the meeting on Thursday, the chairpersons informed Dhlomo about the problems faced by various institutions including long periods spent waiting for ambulances, scarce staff accommodation especially in rural hospitals and budget constraints.

"You are leaders entrusted by your communities to champion their health needs and cannot expect the department to make the necessary changes without your active participation in defining the change, monitoring and evaluating how such change is effected," Dhlomo said.

Dhlomo also outlined the core standards for the assessment of a health facility that the department wants all hospitals to begin improving on. These include cleanliness, safety, staff attitudes, patient experience of care and access to care, among others.

He said the department and the boards' chairpersons need to have a greater understanding of various viewpoints and in sculpting a collective vision of what quality in health care means for the community and some gaps in achieving that vision.

However, Dhlomo said the improvement process moves beyond identifying problems to solving them.

"Through dialogue and analysis, the group looks at the issues to determine root causes and identify solutions for achieving the desired level of quality.

"The cycle of identifying, analysing and acting on the problems in the delivery chain requires a productive team that can work well together."

Dr Dhlomo and the board chairpersons acknowledged the need for a continuous process where they will meet and share knowledge and information on the progress of these improvements.

He also reminded hospital managers to provide information and engage with hospital boards on a regular basis. "This is what government means when it committed to building a working partnership with the people and together to doing more, better."