Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, right, accompanies KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, centre, to Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital. Picture: Supplied

Johannesburg - Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo says she will discuss changing hospital record systems with Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi in a bid to improve the healthcare institutions' filing systems, which she called "a problem".

Dlodlo accompanied KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo to Umlazi to assess the management systems at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital, commissioned in 1981 to service more than 700 000 people in the area.

The facility, which has 1206 beds, includes units such as a 24-Hour emergency; obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatric care, anaesthesia and intensive care, general surgery and plastic surgery. It also caters for visiting specialists in orthopaedics and psych specialist services.

Dlodlo said that an institution where the out-patients department could register an average of almost 35 000 people per month who were mostly referrals from 18 provincial clinics and local government clinics required an efficient patient record keeping system. 

"One of the problems that we have seen across the country is record-keeping and the management or file information of the patient," the minister said.

"We are now going to be working together with the MEC to ensure that we improve that process. We have already visited quite a few hospitals across the country - one of which was in Johannesburg, where we realised that the filling issues are a problem in hospitals. 

"What we have decided to do, is look at people who have been suspended in the provinces to determine which among them can be brought back just to help to deal with the backlog on the filling system and clean-up to that make (it) easier for people working with these files to get files on time and give it to people."

She said that the heavy load on the hospitals puts a strain on record keeping and record management. 

Patients at the Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital complained to Dlodlo and Dhlomo about the long waiting periods for files before they could even see healthcare professionals.

The MEC welcomed the intervention of national government saying that the minister's visit was not merely for oversight but also to support provincial and local government structures. 

"We welcome Minister Dlodlo joining us at Prince Mshiyeni and the support that she has given us. The Minister of Public Service and Administration is interested more to see quality care given to citizens, so we were here to showcase some of the stumble blocks.

"One of those that we showed was hospital records (that) are still filed manually and that becomes a big challenge in terms of a patient who was here last week (and hospitals) can’t find a file today," Dhlomo said.

"Number two, we are litigated a lot by the absence of records in our hospitals and it is this thing that is going to be solved when we go electronic. The minister has seen the frustration of the people shouting that 'I have been here since 6 o’clock, is 12 o’ clock now midday I have not received a file, I don’t even know when I am going to receive it and when I am going to see the doctor."

Motsoaledi said he welcomed the minister's suggestions. "If it means maybe we pilot it in bigger hospitals like Prince Mshiyeni so be it, we welcome it. 

"The second point is that she is aware that sometimes in government we suspend people to be at home for a year or two or three years whilst waiting to solve their cases and she is suggesting that those suspended people be brought in to assist us and to serve as administrators and clerks just to mop-up and improve the quality of service that we give to patients. Those two for me were really big contributions coming from Minister Dlodlo," Motsoaldei said.

African News Agency (ANA)