x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Hospital blames waits on system

Wait times have stretched tremendously at Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah, patients and officials say.

SHARJAH // Patients visiting Al Qassimi Hospital say they are having to wait hours to see physicians, even with an appointment - an issue hospital officials blame on a new record-keeping system.

Rashid Abu Mohammed said he recently arrived at the hospital and took a number at 8.05am. He did not get to see the doctor until 10.30am, he said.

"You cannot wait for more than two hours just to see one doctor, it's too much," he said. "Now for me the whole day is spoilt. By the time I leave here, it will be lunch hour, and what can one do after that?"

Long queues were also in evidence during a recent trip to the women's waiting areas, where several women were to be found pleading with the receptionists, waving their documents and asking when their files would be ready.

Hospital administrators said they were well aware of the congestion.

Jassim Ali Al Ansari, the hospital's director of medical records, blamed a combination of a large number of patients and extra work created by the new Wareed system. The system, which aims to link government hospitals, requires the hospital to enter the data of hundreds of thousands of patient files.

He said that in the gynaecology and paediatric departments alone, doctors treated about 80 patients a day. He added that the staff were dealing with 17 clinics and 25 specialities at the hospital, which created a lot of work that could only be done by hand.

"At present we have 11 staff entering data of 300,000 files of patients since 1991 into the Wareed system," he said. "We believe things will normalise and work quicker once the process is complete, and next month we are planning to open a third registration centre at the orthopaedic department to help decrease the congestion at the other two receptions."

The staff entering data were distributed among various sections to speed up the process, Mr Al Ansari said. New computers and other equipment were being installed to assist in the process as well, he said.

Wareed was introduced in May. So far workers have entered about 40,000 files. Mr Al Ansari predicted it would take two years to get all the files entered in the system.

A spokesman at Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Ajman, where the system was first introduced in the Northern Emirates, said it had not encountered any problems or received any complaints about waiting times from patients.

Wareed was launched by the Ministry of Health to link 14 government hospitals and 100 health centres across Dubai and the Northern Emirates at a cost of Dh200 million, according to the ministry.

The system was aimed at creating a centralised database for patient information, according to the ministry's website.

The project, managed by Hybrid Health Solutions, is being implemented in phases.

The system is hosted centrally at Injazat Data Systems in Abu Dhabi.

ykakande@thenational.ae