FNC responds to patient concerns

Council members visit Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital in UAQ to assess services after series of complaints.
FNC members, from left, Ahmed Al Ameri, Salem Al Ameri, head of the FNC’s health committee, and Salim bin Huwaidan, speak to a patient while Dr Tarik Al Janabi, chief of the emergency department, looks on during a tour at Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital in Umm al Quwain. Sarah Dea / The National
FNC members, from left, Ahmed Al Ameri, Salem Al Ameri, head of the FNC’s health committee, and Salim bin Huwaidan, speak to a patient while Dr Tarik Al Janabi, chief of the emergency department, looks on during a tour at Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital in Umm al Quwain. Sarah Dea / The National

UMM AL QUWAIN // FNC members visited the Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital on Monday after members of the public voiced concerns about the care given to patients – including a lack of Arabic-speaking staff, long waiting times in accident and emergency (A&E) and delays for patients undergoing operations.

The Dh750 million hospital in Al Salama officially opened its doors in December 2012, offering a range of frontline medical services as well as more specialist treatments.

However, residents complained to the FNC about the care on offer, said Dr Sheikha Al Ari, FNC member for UAQ, who visited the hospital along with Obaid Rakad, member for UAQ, Salem bin Huwaidan, member for Sharjah, and Salem Al Ameri, head of the FNC’s health, labour and social affairs committee, and other colleagues.

“The hospital has to perform to the satisfaction of the leadership and patients’ needs,” said Dr Al Ari. “This new hospital has many negatives. I care about providing what citizens need.”

She said that most of the complaints were directed at the A&E unit and the time it took for patients to be seen by staff.

“There are many complaints about this issue. Patients who come to the A&E department are in need of great care, even if the condition is not an emergency.”

The hospital had 30,869 visits for services last year, including outpatient, emergency, inpatient and dialysis visits.

Dr Al Ari said that residents had voiced concerns about waiting times for operations.

“There was a case that came to the hospital and while they were negotiating to take the decision [for surgery] the patient died,” she said.

The hospital receives up to 200 patients in the A&E department each day, said Sheikha Budoor Al Mualla, government relations manager for the hospital, who said there was no shortage of beds or medical equipment, although the low number of dentists on staff meant patients could face delays.

“We ask Presidential Affairs to provide the largest number of dentists besides the four specialists we have because we don’t only cover the emirate of UAQ but also the whole of the Northern Emirates in addition to a few cases coming from Al Ain and Abu Dhabi.

“If there is an unavailable speciality, we ask for a mandate from New Medical Centre to cover.”

Ms Al Mualla said A&E staff had received complaints about long waiting times, but “we try to explain that their condition is less serious than others who cannot afford to wait”.

She also mentioned problems for English-speaking staff when trying to communicate with patients who speak only Arabic or other languages, such as Urdu, as well as foreign doctors who do not have any experience treating people in Islamic countries.

“We have medical staff from Britain and France receiving emergency cases, in addition to doctors from Austria and Europe working in the hospital. We are doing awareness courses for non-Arabic-speaking and foreign doctors to learn the habits, traditions and policy of the country and how males and females work together.”

roueiti@thenational.ae

Published: December 16, 2014 04:00 AM

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