Hospitals hit their waiting time target
ABU DHABI // More than four in five of Abu Dhabi’s 41 hospitals, health centres and clinics hit patient waiting-time targets last year.
Guidelines set by health chiefs require primary-care patients to be given an appointment within 48 hours. Accident and emergency patients should be seen within an hour and treated, discharged or transferred within two hours.
The number of primary-care patients seen within the target time rose from 88 per cent in October 2014 to 98 per cent last year. The number of emergency patients seen within an hour increased from 85 per cent to 97 per cent.
Those who met the third target rose from 60 per cent to 70 per cent. In comparison, figures last November from the UK’s National Health Service show that 91.3 per cent of accident and emergency patients were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours, below its target of 95 per cent.
Overall, 34 Abu Dhabi healthcare facilities met the targets and the remaining seven have been ordered to produce action plans showing how they propose to do so in the future.
“These hospitals have been given time to rectify their performance,” said Dr Omar Najim, quality adviser at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi.
The Health Authority Abu Dhabi launched the Jawda – Arabic for quality – initiative in September 2014, setting targets to improve the standards of service. Dr Asma Al Mannaei, director of strategy at the authority, said many healthcare providers were sceptical and anxious about Jawda when it was launched, but their fears had been unfounded.
“They were scared and wanted to get the numbers right,” she said. “We are not concerned about the numbers on the sheets but their plans to improve these numbers.
“We would like to meet the expectations of our customers on waiting time. Though these don’t have a direct link to the case, this affects the patient.”
Dr Najim said the hospitals that met the targets had done so by changes in management systems and processes, employing a quality officer and through “clean lines of communication and collaboration”.
“We set up an online system of communication and every six months we had a one-to-one meeting with the quality officer and the chief executive,” he said.
Other quality indicators established by Jawda include procedures to make sure the correct patients and body parts were treated, reducing surgical site infections in hospitals and better checks to see if the patient needed to be admitted again after surgery. The outcomes of these have not yet been published.
According to a patient satisfaction survey by the health authority last year, quality of care, communication and prompt service were the top three priorities for patients.
Dr Nabil Debouni, medical director at the private Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, said the hospital saw more than 2,000 patients a day and staff tried to minimise waiting time.
“We try to give the appointment on the day requested. Patients who try to see a physician who is booked on a particular day, we ask them to come without an appointment.”
About 20 per cent of patients do not appear for their appointments. The hospital fills these gaps by giving them to walk-ins. Private hospitals are open from early in the morning until 11pm.
“The numbers look like there is improvement, but private hospitals are different from government hospitals,” Dr Debouni said.
“Emergency services can do with improvement.”
Updated: January 26, 2016 04:00 AM