Appointment dates will now be messaged

A new appointment system at clinics will be implemented over the next two years where appointment dates and times will be SMSed and emailed to patients.

The appointment system was implemented to improve both the patient and staff experience. Patients who are on time for their appointment are given priority.

City health is encouraging its patients to arrive at the clinic 15 minutes before their appointment time, said Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health.

City health has been in the process of implementing manual appointment systems at its clinics since 2016.

“This was initially as a learning pilot, which was then rolled out to all clinics last year. Since 2018, City health has been developing and piloting a new electronic tool to support implementation of the appointment system. This is planned for roll-out to all clinics over the next two years,” said Mr Badroodien.

While the appointment system has reduced the queuing and congestion in clinics, long queues still occur, he said.

Barbara Neer, 58, from Montrose Park can attest to queues still being long even with people arriving as early as 5am.

“I have not received an SMS or email when making appointments. The clinic would take about 50 people for a day, if you do not fall in that bracket, your appointment will be pushed to the next day. If it is not an emergency, you need to wait four to seven hours to be seen by a doctor. Nothing has changed,” she said.”

“Appointments have not yet been implemented for patients who present with acute medical problems, and these patients still tend to arrive at the clinic early which leads to queueing and congestion, even in the chronic and preventive services, where appointment systems have been implemented,” said Mr Badroodien.

He also said some clients continue to arrive at the start of the day, even if they have an appointment for later in the day and without appointments, choosing to wait to be seen rather than make an appointment for another day, he said.

René Hein, 60, from Montrose Park, said she is still using a card to make appointments at the hospital or she would fetch her medication at the Farm Recreational Centre. She said she is not aware of the new appointment system and has not seen it implemented at Eastridge clinic yet.

City health said there are certain situations that put pressure on the appointment system, such as intermittent staffing shortages.

Appointments are available for all non-acute services such as maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, and chronic health services such as the treatment of HIV and TB and non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.