Thought Leadership

Are waiting times over at our public hospitals?

3 Mins read

There are many problems that one can solve with money. There are many that money cannot solve. One example is the time it takes to be seen by a doctor in any of our public hospitals. We have mentioned this in several blog posts in the past. In any public hospital in our country – the first patient for the day is normally seen by a doctor from 11 am. In all my time as a houseman and registrar in Nigeria – I cannot remember a consultant that started his clinic before 10am. ….as my colleagues would say “na so we deh do am for Naija”

…so I was quite excited to read a recent article in The Guardian of a new policy whose goal is that in the next one year.Have you heard about SERVICOM? If not read on…..

… the Federal Ministry of Health in partnership with Servicom office gathered all the chief medical directors of university teaching hospitals, specialist hospitals and the medical directors of Federal Medical Centres in Abuja to brainstorm on how to roll out a pilot programme aimed at reducing patients’ waiting time at the General Out Patient Department (GOPD) of hospitals in the country developed by the Servicom office. The pilot implemented at the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi by the Servicom office reduced waiting time at the GOPD from seven hours to 30 minutes.

Read a full account here.

Wow…so we can do these things? ….We will congratulate our Honourable Minister of Health on this and we will watch the progress of the policy. We hope that it will be extended beyond the General Out Patient Departments to the specialist clinics where the consultants reign…What a difference this would make! What a difference….

The fact is that in the context of the options for quality health care, the best specialists are still found in our teaching hospitals. The primary reason people choose not to go to these places is because they are managed like everything else in our public sector…nobody cares about the “client” or “patient” in our case. You are made to wait for hours….walk around from laboratory, that can only do half of the required tests, to pharmacists that can only provide a third of the required drugs. To be admitted you have to buy your bedsheets, kerosene lamp, mosquito net, food, drinks, gloves for doctor, syringes for nurse etc etc (please I am not exaggerating!)….If you really want to know how bad things are try taking the body of a loved one to the mortuary of any of our teaching hospitals……

These things have nothing to do with the actual delivery of health care.  Nothing. They are the reason NITEL failed, the reason NEP plc is the way it is, the reason why Nigeria Airways is extinct, the reason why Sam Mbakwe “airport” in Owerri is the way it is, the reason why it takes 4 hours to get past Ore, the reason why public our Univerities were closed for 4 months, the reason why to renew our passports at Nothunberland avenue in London takes a full day plus….it is not rocket science – its our public sector!

How do we fix it? Servicom is a good idea….

Servicom a social contract between the Federal government of Nigeria and its people. Servicom gives Nigerians the right to demand good service. Details of these rights are contained in Servicom charters which are now available in all government agencies where services are provided to the public. The charters tell the public what to expect and what to do if the service fails or falls short of their expectation.

Let us support the strengthening of Servicom. It will only work if we work with them. Its a challenge for us! Let us start with our hospitals. If they do not provide the service we expect …do not accept it. Write about it. Send to everyone you know. Send it to Servicom through the contacts below..its your problem too! Its your public sector.

No 3, Usman Dan Fodio Crescent, Zone A4, opposite Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa

Asokoro, Abuja, P.M.B 622, Garki, Abuja
FCT, Nigeria

09-3140372, 08036591090, +234-9-3140373

….no patient would wait for more than an hour before seeing a doctor in any Federal Government owned hospitals across the country.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

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