Health MEC, Madoda Sambatha says primary healthcare can only improve if people first go to clinics and not to hospitals every time they are ill.
The Department of Health recently extended operating hours for some clinics in the North West province from eight to 24 hours a day. The only clinic in the Madibeng municipal district open 24 hours a day, is in Bethanie outside Brits.
The decision to extend operating hours follows Sambatha’s commitment to increase access to healthcare in the province. “The number will increase by at least ten health facilities per year for the next five years, targeting the most rural communities,” Sambatha said.
The Health Department urges the public to make use of Community Health Centers (CHC’s) and public clinics as the first point of entry into the health system. “This request comes due to an unnecessary overflow of patients visiting hospitals with for instance colds, that could have been treated at a primary health care level. The overflow affects emergency cases and also creates an unnecessary burden on secondary health services like hospitals.”
Department records show that out of every 100 patients treated at hospitals, only five need hospital services while 95 percent can be dealt with at clinics.
He said by utilising primary health care services first will reduce the unnecessary burden placed on most hospitals and will have a major impact on the waiting period experienced at hospitals, allowing health professionals to attend to emergencies.