Insure your car, home and valuables with iWYZE
LODGING a complaint about bad service at a public health care facility can be a headache for patients.
But thanks to a new call centre service which lets patients lodge complaints by phone or SMS, their gripes can be addressed in just 30 minutes.
The Cape Argus tested the new pilot project launched by Health MEC Theuns Botha recently by sending an SMS to 31022. Within 30 minutes call centre agents returned our call.
Botha introduced the three-month pilot as a way of “improving patient experience”.
But a number of patients remained sceptical. They told the Cape Argus they had very little information about the service and others said they were too scared to use it.
In Khayelitsha Community Health Centre, one of the clinics that received the most complaints, several patients said they would not use the service for fear of being victimised by staff.
Others said the new initiative was not communicated well to them and that they were not aware of it, while still others said they did not understand the posters which were all in English.
One patient, Sinoxolo Njokweni, said while she was often unhappy with the service at the clinic, she would probably never formally lodge a complaint as she could be victimised.
Njokweni, who needs chronic medication, said although she arrived at the clinic at 3.45am and was first in the queue, she only received her folder three hours after the clinic opened.
“I’m really unhappy about that and want to complain, but I’m scared,” she said.
“What if nurses don’t want to help me again afterwards?”
Another patient who identified herself only as Patience said some clinic staff were rude to patients, but did not wear name tags so patients could not lodge complaints. The Cape Argus noticed that no staff had name tags.
Mark van der Heever, department spokesman, said the call centre had since its launch this month received 22 complaints, of which 18 were resolved and four were being investigated.
Responding to allegations about the “lack of information” on the service, Van der Heever said regular facility visits would be conducted to inform patients of the service.
“The local community media have also been approached to raise awareness. We meet with the call centre agents weekly to evaluate and review the effectiveness of the service.”
Van der Heever said it was important for SMSes to include the key word “help” to allow the network to direct the message.
He said it was departmental policy for all staff to wear name badges.