H.E. Dr. Ahmed Al Saidi, the Minister of Health visited the Royal Hospital on 12th April 2010 at 7.30 am for a meeting with all Directors. The following were the proceedings of this hour-long meeting:
H.E. The Minister was accorded a standing ovation and warm welcome by all present. His Excellency stated that he had ‘grown’ at the Royal Hospital, and so thought it fit to choose it as the first Hospital to visit officially.
His Excellency expressed his great appreciation to H.E. Dr. Ali bin Moosa for the tremendous progress made by the Ministry of Health during his long tenure of 21 years. He said that he would have liked H.E. Dr. Ali bin Moosa to be present for this meeting, but His Excellency’s principles do not allow him to continue to be involved with the Ministry of Health, or to receive praise for the achievements. H.E. Dr. Ali bin Moosa however continues to be H.E. Dr. Ahmed’s ‘spiritual mentor’.
While stressing that a lot has been done by the Ministry of Health during the last 3 decades, citing examples and anecdotes, H.E. Dr. Ahmed Al Saidi stated that ‘fine-tuning’ is required with regard to the following:
- MoH-HQ will give as equal emphasis and support to Hospitals as to Primary Health Care.
- Team-effort and hard-work is extremely important and will be expected of all MoH and RH staff including doctors, nurses, paramedical and administrative staff.
- Communication with patients needs improvement. The patient should be received well by the receptionists, nurses and doctors. He emphasised that hospital staff have a responsibility to relieve the anxiety of patients, put them at ease, respect them, do not keep them waiting long, and serve them well.
- ‘Quality’ should be the theme of work. It is not the facilities and machines that provide good care, but the staff. The hospital should be able to compete with the private sector in giving good personalized care.
- Communication between MoH-HQ, Regions and Hospitals needs improvement. The Dept of Hospital Affairs will be strengthened. The expertise of Clinical Directors will be sought to visit the Regions, evaluate their facilities and mode of functioning, and advise on strengthening of specific services.
- Doctors should be dedicated and motivated. Their job is not a 7.30 am to 2.30 pm one. There is no room for those with low surgical or OP throughput. Doctors and other staff should be prepared to go the extra mile.
- Theatre utilization should be maximized and waiting lists should be reduced. If the theatre is free, it can be used by any other specialty depending on need.
- Long waiting time for outpatient visits is not acceptable. Appointment times should be adhered to.
- The utilization of existing facilities and time should be maximized. The Ministry will provide additional resources and incentives to staff to make the service run as efficiently as possible. The Ministry will also support initiatives to improve productivity, provided they are reasonable.
- RH Consultants will be requested to run specialist outreach clinics in regional hospitals. These planned periodical clinics will relieve the public from having to commute to the capital area, maximize the utilization of certain clinicians who have a low surgical/ outpatient workload at RH, and take the services to the public. Surgeons who don’t have sufficient OT time, beds or anaesthetic help will be expected to work also in other regions and hospitals where such facilities are available.
His Excellency the Minister further responded to queries from various Directors, wherein he clarified that:
- Medications will be made available wherever the patients are, and where they are needed.
- Standardization will be effected across hospitals in terms of policies, guidelines and procedures. The role of the MoH-HQ will be to monitor implementation, resolve obstacles, and provide support wherever required.
- Information Technology will be used more effectively for communication between MoH-HQ, the regions and the periphery. IT linking of various institutions to have a national repository of patient data is being expedited. Patient data confidentiality and security needs to be improved.
- The Muscat General Hospital and Hospitals for Children and for Women are being pursued.
- Measures are being taken to resolve the parking problem at RH.
- The Ministry will support proposals to reduce the waiting time for procedures. Directors should first ensure that there is maximum utilization of the facilities and equipment during normal working hours. Having done that, the Ministry would be willing to compensate staff for elective procedures done outside normal working hours.
- Clinical Directors should submit suggestions on where do they see their department in 5 years time, and how to get there.
- The Hospital Administration may work with the Clinical Directors to implement a program to make the hospital patient-friendly.
- H.E. The Minister said that, considering that just 27% of senior posts have been Omanized, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit expatriate doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff, he is making special efforts to identify training centers abroad. Considering the language and culture, centers in Saudi Arabia are being identified for deputing Omanis for on-the-job training in areas of need.
- His Excellency confirmed that he has no objection to involving NGOs, community groups and volunteers to work free of charge at the Hospital, provided they do not interfere in the Hospital’s policies and procedures.
His Excellency finally stated that Staff are welcome to meet him, not to share the good things that others say, but to offer useful suggestions to improve the service and make it run more efficiently in the interest of patients and the public.