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MPS defends doctors' professionalism

MPS has played down suggestions that the rising cost of claims in South Africa is due to a decline in medical professionalism.

MPS figures have revealed a 132% rise in the cost of reported claims in 2011, compared to figures from 2009, causing concern at the HPCSA. Dr Kgosi Letlape, acting CEO at the time, told Business Day that a decline in the levels of professionalism was behind the increase in clinical negligence claims, and MPS has written to Business Day to outline the other factors behind the increase.

In the letter, Dr Graham Howarth, MPS Head of Medical Services (Africa), said that the cost of claims was down to heightened patient awareness and Howarth added that the cost of patient care packages is also increasing, as technology improves, and this had a significant impact on the size of awards in clinical negligence cases.

ANC calls for openness in HIV policy

The African National Congress (ANC) is campaigning for new policies that say patients with HIV must tell their partners and their families about their condition.

The ANC says that the Department of Health and South African National AIDS Council should draft policy guidelines to this effect and implement the policy.

It believes such a policy would help the government collect reliable statistics on HIV infection rates, which would help it plan for future guidance and regulations. It says the policy would also help health authorities deal more effectively with epidemics and widespread outbreaks.

This forms part of a wide range of ANC policy proposals on education and health.

State hospitals to be managed by registered doctors

The government has announced that it plans to recruit only registered doctors to head up its state hospitals.

It says it will consider any doctor or dentist for the roles as long as they have a postgraduate qualification in public health or management and at least ten years’ managerial experience in the public sector. The salary on offer is thought to be around R1 million per year.

The government has also said that central hospitals will be responsible for delivering highly specialised care and will be linked to medical schools as training hospitals and for research purposes.

The new regulations mean provinces will no longer be responsible for outlining the job requirements for executive managers at the hospitals.

NHI scheme to launch in two KZN districts

The National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme will be launched in two KwaZulu-Natal districts this year, according to the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Zweli Mkhize.

Mkhize said the government needs to focus on sorting out compliance matters from national, provincial and local government levels before the launch, as well as work on recruiting staff. He said it may be necessary to “fast-track” the training of nurses in order for enough nurses to be ready in time.

The two districts will be announced by Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

Effective handling of difficult interactions

Dealing with difficult interactions with patients can be a significant cause of stress for doctors, yet the nature of most clinical jobs makes these encounters unavoidable.

Approximately 15% of clinical interactions are classified by doctors as “difficult” (Hahn et al 1994, Jackson and Kroenke 1999). These types of interactions can induce a range of distressing emotions in both doctors and patients. They can also often lead to increased medicolegal risk.

To assist you in handling difficult interactions and avoiding the negative outcomes that may result, MPS will be launching Mastering Difficult Interactions with Patients, the latest in MPS’s “Mastering” series of communication skills workshops.

Mastering Difficult Interactions with Patients explores the causes of difficult interactions and provides techniques to handle these situations effectively. Workshops will start becoming available in the second half of 2012. As a member of MPS you can attend free of charge as a benefit of your membership.

The following workshops are also available in the series:

  • Mastering Your Risk
  • Mastering Adverse Outcomes
  • Mastering Professional Interactions.

All of the workshops in the “Mastering” series are focused on minimising your risk of complaint and litigation through effective communication.

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