Health Minister: Patients Waiting Time Must Reduce

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has said that the Federal Government was making frantic effort to reduce the number of hours patients spend before seeing a doctor in the hospitals.

The Minister was responding to a presentation on the preliminary findings on the causes of delay of patients before seeing doctors in government hospitals in Nigeria.

The research was conducted by the Bureau for Public Service Reforms (BPRS) in twelve Public health facilities in four states; Enugu, Kano, Lagos and Abuja. The facilities selected in each state were one teaching hospital, one general hospital and a specialist hospital.

The Minister said that the Federal Government would look at the recommendations of the report and begin to implement the most immediate ones.

Part of the recommendations to be given immediate attention included provision of adequate qualified staff to handle medical records, cash office; training of staff, improvement in power supply, functional elevator, provision of water in the toilets system, sign post (guide) and other infrastructural facilities in the hospitals. This, Adewole said would go a long way in reducing time spent before seeing a doctor.

Professor Adewole attributed some of the reasons for the increased work load on Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centers to lack of functional Primary health facilities in the state.

He said that the present administration was determined to reverse the trend by revitalizing the Primary Healthcare Centers (PHC) and make them functional in such a way that they could handle ailments such as malaria, typhoid and immunizations among others.

In his remarks, the leader of the team, former Director General, Bureau for Public Service Reform, Dr. Joe. Aba said that according to the findings in the selected hospitals, patients waited for between three to six hours before seeing doctors depend on hospitals.

He however revealed that most of the time wasted was at records unit, cash office or in the process of getting clearance from HMOs in the case of NHIS patients stressing that most of the challenges were not clinical but administrative.

He said issues like dysfunctional elevator, no water in the toilets, no light and POS not working, were issues that could be handled administratively.

Mr. Abah therefore called on Federal Government to quickly implement the recommendations and work towards increasing the number of medical doctors in some hospitals to reduce patients waiting time.

In his presentation, Ayoola Arowolo, a member of the research team, said that despite time wasted by patients before seeing a doctor, once they saw the doctor they were satisfied with the service rendered.

He said, according to his findings, patients had come to accept long waiting hours as a norm,’ it would only pain them, if after waiting they could not see the doctor”” Arowolo explained.

He then added that what patients wanted while waiting was comfortable atmosphere and other things that could entertain them such as TV or Newspapers.


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