Patients’ perspectives on care to be gathered in survey

Southern hospital patients are about to be surveyed to gauge how satisfied they are with the care they are receiving.

The survey, to be carried out by members of the independent Community Health Council (CHC), is set to start within a fortnight, and will take in the opinions of patients well enough to answer the questions.

CHC chairwoman Karen Browne said the interviews would be brief and to the point to gain an understanding from a patient perspective how their progression through hospital had been.

"We hope to get some sort of measure of how well the system manages planning and process," she said.

"We will also repeat the process so we can get a metric."

Ms Browne said patients were also strongly in support of the Southern District Health Board introducing boards at their bedside which allowed them and their family to monitor their progress towards discharge.

"That should make discharge easy, timely and assist overall patient flow."

The SDHB is already surveyed on various aspects of its performance, but the new assessments are taking place as part of the work of the board’s ongoing patient flow task force.

That group, in which the CHC has played an active role, was set up as part of the SDHB’s response to the "code black" incident in March, when Dunedin Hospital was briefly overwhelmed with patients and several people had to wait long hours in the emergency department to be seen.

The board demanded improvement and each month since then it has received a report on ongoing efforts to improve flow of patients through the hospital.

Chief nursing and midwifery officer Jane Wilson said Dunedin Hospital was still battling to meet weekday discharge targets, and that staff were also looking to get more patients home on a Friday so as they did not remain in beds over the weekend.

Ms Wilson said there had been some improvement in getting patients discharged before noon: a target of 33% had been met in Southland but the rate was hovering around 30% in Dunedin.

"We are finding it difficult but we are not giving up."

Other work the task force was doing included an audit of the recently introduced "rapid round" system of patient assessment to check it was working well, helping introduce a new system of patient record keeping to speed up transfer of patients to aged residential care, a new system for bed requests, and instituting an "early prediction" system of whether a patient in emergency was likely to be admitted or not.

The task force was also considering an integrated operations centre, an initiative introduced at Auckland Hospital and which Southern staff had been due to visit before the Covid-19 alert level changed.


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