More than half of the patients who visit Ugandan hospitals have to wait for more than an hour before they can see a health worker only to be told there’s no medicine or equipment to assist in their diagnosis, according to a survey carried out by the Ministry of Health.
The survey which was carried out between 2020 and 2021 had a total of 9,733 patients or hospital clients who took part in it from 447 health facilities. The health facilities that took part in the hospital included one national referral hospital, regional referral hospitals, general hospitals and health centre IVs.
Findings from the study reveal that many patients who walk into public and private hospitals are not satisfied with the level of care they receive. The report shows that around 69 percent of all participants in the study were not happy about the services they received at both private and government health facilities.
Dr. Martin Ssendonya, the commissioner in charge of Standards Compliance, Accreditation and Patient Protection Department at the Ministry of Health says the biggest problem that patients cited at health facilities was the lack of medicine and basic equipment like blood pressure measuring machines.
In addition to the above, patients also complained about the poor bedside manner of health care workers. Dr. Ssendyonna says many patients were not happy with the way they were handled at maternity and out-patient wards.
Another complaint that was raised by patients was the duration of time they spend waiting before they can access medical care. ” Ideally patients in the out-patient department should wait for 30 minutes to an hour to see a health worker. But we found that this not happening because of few staffing levels at hospitals, some patients wait for even two or three hours to access care. This ends up causing congestion in hospitals,” says Dr. Ssendyona.
The majority of the complaints were from government facilities according to the report. The report says when it came to health care accessed at private facilities, many of the respondents were happy about the attentiveness of health care workers at the hospitals but they complained about the high cost of services charged in these facilities.
When it came to regions, patients in Bugisu region recorded the highest level of satisfaction with 72 percent saying they received good services followed by those in Busoga with 56 percent of them being happy with services received. Teso region recorded the lowest customer care satisfaction rating with only 9.8 percent of the patients saying they were content with the quality of care that they received.