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South Africa: Bar Set Higher for SA’s Health Facilities
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Friday, January 31, 2014
Focus: Internet Governance
Country: South Africa
Created: Jan 31, 2014

“It cannot be business as usual. There are going to be changes. As we do this, we are preparing for the NHI [National Health Insurance]. I am certain that we will be able to do a good job.”

The OHSC protects and promotes the safety of users of health services by seeing to it that all health care facilities meet the required standards, and that complaints about health service standards are investigated and appropriate action is taken.

In a move to improve the quality of services in the health sector, the OHSC has identified cleanliness, safety and security, staff attitude, infection control, long queues and drug stock out as the core standards that have to be adhered to at all times.

Motsoaledi said the establishment of the office was a step in the right direction for health care in the country.

“Today marks the end of a phase and a beginning of an era for health care in South Africa. In order to achieve universal cover in the country, two things need to be address - the quality of health care is the main issue.”

The second issue that needed to be address, the minister said, was high medical costs that citizen were subjected to in the private sector.

The establishment of the office follows the National Health Amendment Act, 2013, which enabled the Health Minister to establish the OHSC.

Motsoaledi said it had taken the Department of Health years to prepare for this moment. He said safety was paramount in the functioning of any health facility, and hospitals and clinics would be forced to comply with the OHSC.

“In cases of failure to comply, the office will have power to recommend disciplinary action. In very serious cases, an institution might be temporarily disabled,” he said.

The minister sees the OHSC board as well placed to play a pivotal role in the rolling out of the NHI, which will provide universal health care to all South Africans. In March 2012, Motsoaledi announced the 10 districts where the NHI would be piloted across all provinces.

Great expectations from the board

The key expectations of the board include restoring public pride in health facilities, giving patients a voice and identifying high risks in clinics and hospitals.

The department had employed 27 inspectors, who also conduct unannounced visits at hospitals around the country.

The office is also committed to ensuring the improvement of everyday quality services. It will also make provision for the establishment of an office where patients can share their experiences with the Ombudsperson.

“This will reflect what patients think of us,” Motsoaledi said.

Also present at the inauguration were Dr Edward Kelly of the World Health Organisation, who was director of the Department of Service Delivery and Safety and Dr Tracey Cooper, the CEO of the Health Information and Quality Authority and President of the International Society for Quality in Health Care.

Cooper said South Africa should pride itself in establishing the OHSC, as other countries could learn and follow in its footsteps.

Other members of the board include Professor Laetitian Charmaine Rispel as Deputy Chairperson; Dr Ethelwynn Stellenburg; Professor Gert Jacobus van Zyl;

Professor Sabhiha Essack; Dr Zameer Brey; Advocate Simon Maruping Lebal SC; Josephine Kwena Mabotja; Martin Kuscus; Professor Stuart Whittaker ; Vuyiswa Dubula-Majola and Thembeka Gwagwa.
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