Hundreds of patients have had to queue for up to 10 hours or return to Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre (CHC) to collect their medication because of a backlog at the pharmacy last month and this month.
Monique Johnstone, provincial Department of Health spokesperson for Klipfontein and Mitchell’s Plain; and Western and Southern Sub-structures, said between 50 and 100 patients were affected last month.
However,the pharmacy dispenses medication to approximately 500 people daily and between 8 000 and 9 000 patients monthly.
The centre has its monthly headcount at 39 568.
The Plainsman sent an enquiry to the provincial Department of Health after patients complained of long queues via social media.
Mark van der Heever, deputy director of communications in the provincial Department of Health, said last month’s backlog could be attributed to the public holidays and there not being enoughpharmacy staff to cope with the patient demand.
He said an added number of patients were referred to the pharmacybecause they had defaulted on the chronic dispensing unit (CDU) programme.
Patients on the programme amount to between 10 and 15% of patients.
“ExistingCDU patients who do not collect their medication regularly will be taken off the CDU system if they do not collect their medication on the collection date and wou ld then need to go through the system again of being examined to determine if they require the same medication for their condition,” he said.
When asked how far the backlog went, Mr Van der Heever didn’t give a specific answer but said they were looking at ways to sort it out.
“But due to the increase of patients and non-adherence to medication collection these issues add to the problem,” he said.
Patient Jacqueline Davids, 47, from Beacon Valley, who is diabetic and has stage 3 kidney disease, sat in the pharmacy queue from 8am until 4pm on Friday April 6 to collect her mother’s medication and on Friday April 20 she returned to collect her medication.
She was back at the centre on Friday May 4 to collect medication for her mother and again had to wait for more than three hours.
She sent an email to the department for an explanation. “Please tell me why there is a backlog of patients every day at the day hospital. Those who were not helped the day before have to return,” she wrote.
Ms Davids told the Plainsman patients young and old were told to come back the next day.
“The benches at the pharmacy is full every day because of the previous day’s patients and you that have the appointment need to sit in the hall at reception,” she said.
She said medication was only dispensed from one window, when there were three other windows. “You don’t get all your medication not even an ‘ I owe you’ is given,” she said.
She said her appointment was for 8am but she was only helped at 4pm.
There was also a discrepancy with Ms Davids’ script, which was completed in the wrong colour ink.
Mr Van der Heever said pharmacy protocol dictates that all prescriptions must be completed in black ink. “Any abbreviation on a prescription is not allowed and the prescription will be rendered as illegal. This means that the prescription will have to be corrected by the clinician before the script can be dispensed,” he said.
Mr Van der Heever said Ms Davids was referred from Groote Schuur Hospital and one of her items had to be corrected due to an abbreviation made on the prescription by the clinician.
“We apologise for the long wait but legally Ms Davids’ prescription had to be corrected before she could receive the correct medication,” he said.
Ms Davids told the Plainsman yesterday, Tuesday May 22, that it paid to complain because when she went to collect her medication on Friday May 18 she joined the queue to collect her medication at 7.30am and she left the hospital at 11.30am.
The centre’s offsite CDU is the alternative dispensing programme to decongest the pharmacy.
Only a certain amount of patients are allowed to be placed on the CDU system. The current limit for offsite CDU collections is 18 300 per month.
Due to this limitation on the CDU programme, more patients will have to collect their medication at the pharmacy.
Mr Van der Heever said the major contributing factor to the influx of patients at the pharmacy, is the non-adherence to medication collection at these offsite CDUs, which means that the person would have to return to the pharmacy again for collections.
A number system will be implemented at the pharmacy, which is scheduled for the first week in June, to reduce waiting times.
According to the last waiting time survey done at the centre, in September last year, patients waited an average of two hours but now because of the backlog patients wait longer due to the increase in patient numbers relating to non-compliance for medication collection.
Shamierah de Vos, 50, from Tafelsig, sat in the queue on Wednesday May 16 from before 8am until 4pm.
Her son had come to fetch her after 2pm but he had to come back for her because she had not yet received medication.
Ms De Vos said waiting in a long queue made you feel more sick.