Extended clinic hours: Q&A


Because of Johannesburg’s political oversight of clinics and social development, the MMC for Health and Social Development Dr Mpho Phalatse, is driving the extended-hours programme that has resulted in six clinics’ hours already being extended across the City.

Phalatse answered a few questions about the journey, so far:

Why have the hours not been extended before?

It was done in the past but did not last very long because of budget issues, but we have made it a priority. When it comes to human lives, it should not be an option.

Have the extended hours eased the burden of long waiting times?

Extended hours are already easing the burden. People who would have queued all day are able to come after hours. We do acknowledge the need to better the time even more. This will be done through an appointment system. We are looking at an electronic module for making appointments, which will be part of the e-health system. When it launches it will change how we handle health care.

Do you see people who can afford medical aid opting to make use of clinics instead?

If they know we have good quality service, yes. We are planning with patients about what good healthcare is all about. If you go to a private facility, you will still have to queue. If we could improve other things that are different about clinics, we will have more people opting to go to public facilities.

What is the possibility of all 82 clinics in the City having extended hours by 2021?

Even though there is the political will to do that, everything is subject to budget availability. In a joint funding arrangement with the province, they need to be on board with everything we do. If the City collects more revenue, more funds can be appropriated to do this. But where there is an absolute dire need, like where residents cannot reach a hospital at 10pm, we will ensure hours are extended.

Will more clinics be built soon?

Before building more clinics, we would rather utilise fully what we have. The World Health Organisation recommend that a clinic should be available within 5km of a person – we are moving towards that. But, with extended service hours, let’s look at how we can make better use of the facilities already in place.

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