Health care users' experiences and perceptions of waiting time at a diabetes clinic in an academic hospital

Mokgoko, Monica Maphefo
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Despite the technological developments in medical care, patients still experience unacceptable levels of waiting time (Barlow 2002). Health care users perceive waiting time as a problem and this is articulated by media reports on how citizens complain about long waiting before receiving any medical attention especially for a prearranged appointment. They express dissatisfaction about long waiting time at various departments such as admissions, casualty, polyclinic, and pharmacy. Waiting time is perceived as a problem equal to lack of access to health care services in South Africa and internationally. These complaints prompt negative media reporting about health care services at public hospitals and clinics. Such damaging reports about health facilities may prevent nursing and other health professions from attracting neophytes. The result will be more staff shortage that impacts negatively on waiting time. On the other hand the working class citizens expect to receive health care services in public health facilities timely and go to work. Unfortunately patients and their relatives wait longer than they anticipated and the waiting causes anger, anxiety, fear, frustration, and sadness. These emotions are caused by lack of information about the doctors’ whereabouts and often cause conflicts between users and health workers. Some public hospitals and clinics do not have mechanisms on information giving regarding the doctors’ activities that may affect the waiting time. This information may assist patients to make informed decisions whether to wait or reschedule an appointment. In an attempt to reduce waiting time the Gauteng Department of Health introduced several measures. The problem statement for this research study is that health care users express dissatisfaction about waiting time at public health facilities and they lodge complaints which make approximately 20-30% of the Patients Complaints Hotline in the Gauteng Province. It was in view of this problem statement that the purpose of this research study was formulated to explore health care users’ experiences of waiting time at a diabetes clinic in an academic hospital and describe perceptions to which they give rise; in order to utilise the findings to facilitate formulation of policy guidelines for management of waiting time aimed at promotion of comfort in the outpatient departments..