Long waiting times biggest public hospital gripe

Having to wait a long time at public out-patient departments is people's biggest gripe, a recent survey found.

Having to wait a long time at public out-patient departments is people's biggest gripe, a recent survey found. 

Over half of patients surveyed said they spend at least two hours waiting during each hospital visit, and that the waiting time increases depending on how good a hospital is, according to a survey released today.

Dirty toilets and high medical bills are another aspect that patients aren't satisfied with, while the small variety of food is another sore point for hospitalized patients.

To better understand patients’ demands and improve local health services, the Shanghai Medical Ethos Association conducted the survey of 15,892 patients and their families.

Generally, patients think highly of public health services in the city across issues like doctors' punctuality, privacy protection during check and treatment, clear signs inside hospitals, and having questions answered in simple language that patients can understand.

“We found hospitals can make progress to further meet patients’ demands, such as promoting reservation of out-patient services and reducing patients’ waiting time,” said Fan Guanrong, director of the association. "The survey found patients with shorter waiting times gave higher marks in general."

The survey said about 30 percent of out-patient services are reserved, and that city-level hospitals have a higher reservation rate than district-level hospitals and neighborhood health centers. 

“Reservation and a classified service system are important to improve efficiency of hospitals and give patients better experiences, as 40 percent of patients in city-level hospitals are actually those with chronic and common diseases,” Fan said. “Such patients can visit district-level hospitals and neighborhood health centers with less patients and shorter waiting times.”

Xia Lin, an official from Shanghai Children’s Medical Center, one of the leading children’s hospitals in the city, said city-level hospitals have begun promoting out-patient reservation.

“Once patients register in the system, they will know their number and when it will come up, meaning patients can better arrange their waiting time,” she said. 

Xu Jing, the mother of an 11-year-old girl, said she prefers district-level hospitals when her daughter has a fever and cold instead of going to a leading hospital because of the crowds. “We only go to big hospitals for complicated problems.”

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