Patients will be able to access emergency treatment at only eight hospitals in Abu Dhabi after the government introduced a health service shake-up to drive up standards.
Ambulance services have been instructed to transport patients requiring emergency care to only the specified medical facilities.
The eight hospitals are Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Al Mafraq Hospital, Al Rahba Hospital, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Tawam Hospital, Madinat Zayed Hospital, Al Ain Hospital, and NMC Royal Hospital.
The revamp involves health facilities being divided into Emergency Care Departments and Urgent Care Centres.
The series of inspections by the department found that some facilities did not have a certified emergency doctor on hand or employed unqualified triage nurses.
Mohamed Al Hameli, undersecretary at the Department of Health, said hospitals have been reclassified to offer patients better and more efficient care.
“We maintain our commitment to providing Abu Dhabi’s residents with access to a fully integrated, world-class health care system, enhancing patient experience and putting the patient at the centre of care,” Mr Al Hameli said.
“The new model for emergency departments in the emirate will meet patients’ requirements and medical needs more efficiently, by identifying and providing appropriate and safe emergency care services.”
The signage at the eight hospitals will be changed to reflect the new status.
Health chiefs have set out standards of care that hospitals must reach to receive emergency care department status.
The Department of Health confirmed that more seriously ill or injured patients should attend emergency departments, while those with less serious ailments should go to urgent care centres.
“Based on the severity of the illness, patients in need of medical assistance will be able to access relevant healthcare facilities,” according to the department.
“Patients suffering from acute, life-threatening conditions should head to an emergency care department, where emergency physicians will treat them with state-of-the-art equipment used for emergency resuscitation, surgery, and 24-hour access to intensive care facilities.
“In case of an emergency, you can call 999.
“Patients with illnesses and minor injuries can attend urgent care centres, which will provide initial assessment, diagnostic treatment and referral as appropriate.
“These facilities will be available on a walk-in basis and operational around the clock, unless alternative working hours are pre-determined by [the department].”
However, Mr Al Hameli said that patients requiring urgent care would not be turned away if they went to an emergency department.
“We will never turn away a patient regardless of whether they have insurance or not, or nationality, or for any reason. Our goal is to save lives, not make profit,” he said.
Dr Aysha Al Memari, chair of accidents and emergency services for Abu Dhabi Health Services, said the reclassification was aimed at improving patient care.
“We just would like to increase awareness and to redirect patients to other facilities, keeping in mind that not only will that reduce waiting times, but it will guarantee better services for everyone,” Dr Al Memari said.
More hospitals are expected to be licensed to provide emergency care in the future.
Mr Al Hameli said the health authority’s next challenge would be to educate the public on what constitutes emergency care to ensure resources are not misused.