Out-of-hospital services

August 17, 2016 - 09:00

It’s the first time the Health Ministry has proposed a draft on management regulations of privatised services in both State-owned and individual hospitals.

Viet Nam News

By Kiều Vân

It’s the first time the Health Ministry has proposed a draft on management regulations of privatised services in both State-owned and individual hospitals.

The ministry is selecting opinions from hospital leaders for the ten-criterion draft being shown at a conference in HCM City, which was believed to be held amid public anger on poor behaviour from the staff of out-of-hospital service providers.

Out-of-hospital services, such as security guards, patient transport, canteen services and solid medical waste treatment, besides dead body preservation and funeral organisation, at big hospitals, were provided by private companies or even individuals who won the bid and signed contracts with hospitals.     

The list of out-of-hospital services will be divided into two groups: convenient services to hospital management and convenient services to patient needs.  

The draft also ordered the issue of open public bids for these services as per regulations, and asked health facilities to select service providers that maintain quality and charge reasonable prices. Examining the human attitude of service staff, the most important factor in the current situation seems to not be a focus of the ministry’s draft.  

The Health Ministry leaders have discussed carefully measures to tighten the supervision of privatised services in hospitals at the conference. Minister Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến had a straight talk about service staff manner that was worsening the image of a Safe, Friendly and Modern Hospital.

“People have an image of a hospital as scary,” she said “the first impression or welcome patients get at the hospital gate is, as reflected by people, a poker face or even a scolding by the security guard.”

“Why do staff at the entrance of many places welcome visitors and we don’t?”

According to Lương Ngọc Khuê, Director General of the Medical Examination and Treatment Department under the Ministry of Health, shortcomings related to poor management of out-of-hospital services have caused recent incidents: security guards prevented an ambulance carrying a nine-month-old heart patient leaving the hospital, over-State regulation parking fees, patient’s relatives struck a doctor at a hospital, petty theft in patient rooms.    

The hospitals have left the work to service providers but if an incident happened, it affects the prestige of doctors and hospitals.

A staff member at a bank in Hà Nội, Nguyễn Thu Hạnh, 35 spoke of bad behaviour by security guards and cleaners at several State-owned hospitals. A general feeling was that they had grouchy look and often shouted at patients. “Hospital leaders seem unwilling to check ethical issues of service staff before offering them work,” Hạnh said.

“We can not blame the circumstances, the pressure of work, hot weather, but the problem here is the attitude of man to man.”.

It should be the responsibility of hospitals to monitor services and strictly punish those who trouble patients.

Minister Tiến admitted recent incidents related to out-of-hospital services were just single cases, however if hospital leaders didn’t seriously tackle the problems, the consequences would become worse.

“Those with favorable conditions such as high-income, relatives living or studying abroad will choose overseas hospitals, bleeding currency out of Việt Nam.”

It is obvious that the health sector has recognised the public anger that has affected the quality of medical examination and treatment, as well as the image and prestige of doctors in Việt Nam, and it is trying to correct this.

The biggest difficulty in many central hospitals is the overload of people going to health examinations every day and in resident-patient rooms. That is also a challenge to security guards ensuring safety and order at big hospitals.     

So selecting a professional guardian company with skills, manners and a guaranteed profile is urgent and necessary for each hospital.

Nguyễn Ngọc Hiền, deputy director of Hà Nội-based Bạch Mai Hospital said feedback from patients and their relatives was important to help hospital leaders immediately discover shortcomings and tackle problems.

Opinion ballots of patients on ambulance service have contributed to the hospital’s decision on what ambulance providers will be chosen.

Hospitals and the ministry managers in the country are making efforts to recover the good image of out-of-hospital services, and it needs the community’s support and trust. -- VNS