Despite the successes over the years in the delivery of primary health care in Barbados, there still seems to be a gap between the customer and client and the quality of service offerings within the public health care system.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John, made this admission yesterday, while speaking at a workshop for nursing managers in the training room of the National Initiative for Service Excellence, Suite 102, Building No. 4, Harbour Industrial Park, St. Michael.
She added that the workshop, entitled Improving Programme Implementation Quality in Primary Health Care, was an effort to bridge the gap by improving the quality in the implementation of customer care programmes within the primary health care setting.
“Quality is measured by the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes which are consistent with current professional knowledge and meet the expectations of health care users.
“However, as important as it is, quality in health care systems cannot just be about effectiveness in driving good health outcomes, but also involves a lot more issues including equity, access, responsiveness, and efficiency in the delivery of services,” St. John added.
The CMO further stressed that quality health care was placed high on the Ministry of Health’s reform agenda, which was informed by a growing demand for greater accountability from health care providers, higher expectations in processes and outcomes, as well as community-based services, and an increasing demand for better value for money by purchasers and policy makers.
As a result, she urged participants in the workshop to provide the necessary leadership and direction and to examine the various systems to see where there could be some contribution to enhance the delivery of quality care to the persons they served.
“You must also be committed, involved and focused on the needs of customers and stakeholders. There must be clear and effective measurement and feedback systems and most of all, learning from evaluation. Through evaluation, we can better determine what is needed for continuous improvement to ensure results are captured and shared throughout the organisation,” she advised.
Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand, also addressed the nurses and stressed that the objective of the meeting was to improve the professionalism, attitude and practices of nursing staff to clients. She noted that the work done in the Ministry of Health could be viewed as being part of the service industry and that its staff should deliver “good quality” service.
“In addition to providing professional services, we have to deal with our clients. Now the clients who are coming to us are not most of the time happy, excited and wanting to come to us … they are coming because they are ill … or under stress because they don’t know what you are going to be telling them… So, we as professionals in the health field have to have that ‘extra’ [attentiveness] when dealing with the client to make them comfortable. You as managers also have to manage the other officers under you to help them deliver that kind of service to our clients,” she counselled.
Some of the areas covered during the one-day workshop included: Creating the Nursing Customer Service Strategy; Revisiting and Articulating Service Excellence Vision and Mission; and Assessing the Service Delivery of Process and Assessing Service Results. Participants are also expected to develop action plans to support the building of service culture.