27/07/2012. Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi addresses delegates at the School Health Conference held at Unisa.
Picture: Masi Losi
27/07/2012. Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi addresses delegates at the School Health Conference held at Unisa. Picture: Masi Losi

Health Bill gets the nod from MPs

Time of article published Aug 14, 2012

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Cape Town - The National Assembly on Tuesday approved the National Health Amendment Bill.

Introducing debate on the measure, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the deteriorating quality of health care in public hospitals had been a thorn in the country's flesh for quite some time.

Very serious and disturbing problems were being experienced with respect to the effectiveness of the health system. Various areas had been identified to deal with this issue effectively, including quality, he said.

The bill was intended to amend the existing National Health Act to establish a public entity called the Office of Health Standards Compliance or OHSC.

This body was styled along the same lines as the British Quality Care Commission.

Motsoaledi said the entity would include an inspectorate unit. In terms of the bill, it would be mandatory for the unit to inspect each and every health facility once every four years.

The problematic ones would be inspected as often as possible. If monitored frequently they could avoid deterioration until there was a crisis, as was now happening in some hospitals around Gauteng, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.

“We have already sent 20 individuals to Britain to train as inspectors of our facilities.”

Once inspected, the facility would be graded from grade A to grade F and the report would be released publicly.

Another unit would be a health ombudsman. This unit would function as an area where members of the public could lodge complaints about the negative experiences they might have encountered during visits to health facilities.

These complaints would range from poor staff attitudes, long waiting times, non-availability of drugs, safety and security concerns and the like.

Motsoaledi said he hoped that with the establishment of the OHSC, institutions would be “on their tenterhooks”.

“Each and every health facility manager will have to take full accountability for their actions and for omissions, that may lead to some of the adverse events our facilities experience quite often,” he said.

The bill now goes to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence. - Sapa

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