Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Social workers in hospitals play an important role in connecting patients with hospital staff but the development of social work at health facilities still faces many challenges, according to an official from the health ministry.
Guiding new patients on the "ins and outs" of health procedures, supplying information on hospital services, giving them psychological support and organising charitable work were some of the many tasks performed by social workers.
In 2010, the Prime Minister approved a project to develop social working as a career for the next 10 years (from 2011-2020), providing an important legal framework for the development of social work in Việt Nam.
Since then, a number of hospitals had established units specialising in social work, contributing to meeting patients’ needs and improving healthcare, said Nguyễn Hồng Sơn, deputy head of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Organisation and Personnel, at a workshop held in Hà Nội last Saturday.
Participants at the workshop agreed that social workers were necessary in hospitals to support patients and reduce the pressure on doctors, thus helping to raise treatment quality.
Social workers had helped doctors to classify patients and explain medical services to them, creating better conditions for patients to access health examinations and treatment services, they said.
Dương Thị Minh Thu, head of the National Paediatrics Hospital’s Social Work Division, told Giáo dục&Thời đại (Education&Time) newspaper that social workers helped patients and medical workers understand each other so they understood procedures and health insurance issues.
They also regularly took part in charity and fundraising programmes, she said. The division raised around VNĐ20 billion (US$865,000) each year to help support poor patients.
Director of the National Paediatrics Hospitals Lê Thanh Hải told Gia đình (Family) online newspaper that social workers had helped many poor child patients.
Thousands of disadvantaged patients had received financial assistance to support their treatment costs, and millions of units of bloods and millions of meals had been donated, he said.
However, Sơn from the health ministry noted that while social work was highly recognised in many other countries, public awareness of the career in Việt Nam, particularly among policy makers, medical workers, patients and the community was still limited.
Limited professional skills were also a challenge, he said.
In order to develop social work in hospitals nationwide, participants at the conference pointed to the need to take comprehensive measures, including raising public awareness of social work, providing professional training and increasing experience sharing with other countries.
The Ministry of Health has set a target of setting up social work units at all central-level hospitals, 60 per cent of provincial-level hospitals and 30 per cent of district-level hospitals by 2020. — VNS