Keith Black, Ottery
This is an open letter to health department management heads.
On Wednesday July 26, I received an almost intense plea from an elderly gentleman of 77 with chronic ailments about issues at the District Six clinic.
According to him, when Woodstock Hospital was closed, patients were accommodated at the almost ultra-modern three-storey District Six clinic a few years ago. There were always enough doctors, nurses and staff as well as a four-window reception that received many patients, but more recently, there has been a very noticeable decline in staff, including doctors and nurses, and now only two of the four reception windows are open, and patients get told that only a certain number of them will be attended to.
The four windows at the pharmacy have also been reduced.
Apparently, patients, with all manner of ailments, have to listen while staff make regular announcements over a speaker system that they are experiencing staff shortages.
Does the health department know about this?
I am informing one and all as I promised the elderly gentleman that an investigation would be launched and shortcomings addressed for the benefit of the patients who depend on a caring and professional health service.
Provincial health department spokesperson Natalie Watlington responds:
We are thankful for the feedback and we acknowledge the issues raised by Mr Blake. Our facility has made contact with Mr Blake to provide feedback on the matters he raised, as well as developments in progress.
We have invited Mr Blake to share suggestions with us because we value the voice of the patient.
Over the past five years, our patient load has tripled at District Six Community Healthcare Centre, which created significant service pressure. A staff shortage due to staff transferring to other facilities for other employment opportunities or absenteeism has resulted in our patients experiencing a slightly longer waiting time, and we apologise for the inconvenience.
We are determined to fill vacant posts as soon as possible so that we can strengthen our service capacity.
We are also investing in the quality of care we provide through staff development and training, as well as staff wellness.
We invite our community to continue sharing their concerns and feedback with us.