The Deputy Minister for Health, Hon. Dr. Bernard Okoe Boye, has urged health institutions to deepen their quality assurance practices so as to help improve patients’ experiences at hospitals in the country.

He said Quality Assurance Units in the various health facilities would have to be more proactive by instituting patients-centered medical protocols for handling clients from the very onset of their presence at hospitals instead of waiting for them to be aggrieved before taking their complaints for resolution. “We need to put in place a system that ensures that patients leave our hospitals very satisfied and happy.

We can achieve this by making sure that they are appropriately received and sensitized on the protocols for assessing services, protected from undignified treatments and their complaints promptly investigated and the findings communicated to all stakeholders”.

Hon. Okoe Boye was delivering the keynote address at this year’s celebration of the World Patients’ Safety week which was colourfully held today at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi under the global theme “Safe Health Workers, Safe Patients”. The day was instituted by the World Health Organization (WHO) last year as part of its campaign to make patients safety one of its global priorities.

Hon. Dr. Okoe Boye , who is also the Member of Parliament (M.P.) for the Ledzokuku constituency in the greater Accra Region, added that though health workers in the country work under enormous pressure, it was important that health facilities still make every effort to provide humane and dignified care to patients.

On the issue of safety of the health worker and patients, the Hon. Deputy Minister for Health said it was a major priority of government. He said it was for that reason that the government has committed substantial resources in the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing capacity of key laboratories in the country during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the deliberate decision to escalate the supply of PPE for health workers and the country’s PCR testing capacity for COVID-19 from 1,200 tests per day to over 6,000 tests currently constituted an ample evidence of the government’s commitment to the safety of both health workers and patients.

 Dr. Okoe Boye praised health workers in the country for the role they have played in the management of COVID-19 cases stressing that their competence and sacrifices have been crucial in ensuring Ghana’s globally acclaimed successful control of the pandemic. He said the decision by the government to grant income tax waivers to health workers in the country is in acknowledgement of their sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic and it would continue to pursue policies to prioritize their safety so that they can be safe for patients too.

The Ashanti Regional Minister, Hon. Simon Osei-Mensah, stressed the need for health institutions to improve their customer care culture and patient safety by providing services that are prompt and devoid of discrimination and favouritism. He said health workers should realize that though sick persons are referred to as “patients”, they do not always have patience because in most cases they may be going through some pain as a result of their medical conditions hence the need for health workers to be tolerant in their interaction with the sick.

He also praised health workers in the region for distinguishing themselves in the management of COVID-19 cases adding that though the region had the second highest cases of the disease, the workers were undaunted and did their best with the available resources.

Prof. Baafuor Kofi Opoku, Medical Director of KATH, said health workers and patients’ safety was simply about the prevention of accidents or injuries arising out of the provision of medical care. and the country’s constitution enjoins employers to provide a safe and a healthy working environment for workers.

Prof. Baafuor Opoku said in recognition of the above obligation, the management of the hospital has instituted a number of measures to improve both the safety of staff and patients over the years. These measures include the establishment of the Quality Assurance Unit, the Occupational Health and Safety Committee and Counselling Office at the Chaplaincy Unit to provide psychological support staff under stress.

Prof. Baafuor Opoku said the hospital’s patient safety strategy revolves around the prevention of hospital acquired infections, drug safety and surgical safety adding that the hospital is committed to safeguarding the safety of both patients and staff through training, enforcement of protocols and infection prevention interventions.

Dr. Nimako Boateng, Head of the Quality Assurance Unit of KATH said the celebration of the day was a testament of the hospital’s commitment to the issues of patient safety.

The celebration was used to create a platform for some patients to share their experiences in accessing care at the hospital.

 A chorography piece, depicting the importance of team work in ensuring patients safety, was also put up by a section of members of staff to the admiration of the audience.

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