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Overwhelming satisfaction with SA public healthcare services

Statistics South Africa says that 81% of households using public healthcare services in 2017 were either "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with the provisions they receive at public facilities. News24 reports that this follows the completion of Stats SA’s general household survey (GHS) for 2017. It also tracked trends starting from 2002.

With regard to public healthcare in 2017, chief director of social statistics Dr Isabelle Schmidt said that less than 17% of the population had medical aid cover. Of those, only the two "wealthier provinces" of Gauteng and Western Cape were above the 16.9% national average, with 25% and 24.8% private cover respectively. The Northern Cape (16.3%), North West (15.5%), Free State (14.9%), Mpumalanga (13.9%), KwaZulu-Natal (12.6%), Eastern Cape (9.9%) and Limpopo (8.3%) were all below the national average.
The vast majority of those surveyed, however, were seemingly satisfied with their healthcare service – regardless of whether they used public or private facilities.

"The study found that 81.7% of households that attended public healthcare facilities were either very satisfied or satisfied with the service they received, compared to 97.3% of households that attended private healthcare facilities," Schmidt said. Of the 81% national figure for public healthcare services, 55% were "very satisfied" and 27% were "somewhat satisfied".

The report says by province, households in the Western Cape (19%), North West (18%), Free State (18%) and Northern Cape (14%) were more inclined to be dissatisfied with their level of public healthcare. The levels of satisfaction were better than the national average in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo, the statistics showed.

Schmidt said the GHS report revealed that about 71.2% of households reported that they made use of public clinics, hospitals or other public institutions as their first point of access when household members fell ill or got injured. "By comparison, 27.4% of households indicated that they would go to private doctors, private clinics or hospitals."

Nearly a quarter (23.3%) of SA households had at least one member who belonged to a medical scheme.

The report says the sample used was 21,225 households and 72,291 individuals. The GHS also utilised face-to-face interviews of household heads or, alternatively, citizens who were 16 years old or older.

Asked if the figures were in line with past years and if they varied over time, Schmidt said with regards to medical aid coverage, they had seen "a relatively stable pattern over time that around 17% of the population has medical aid. This goes up and down only slightly annually between 16% and 17%". The same applied to the "general satisfaction" question, where 81% of households were satisfied with public healthcare and 97% satisfied with private healthcare. We've seen very similar patterns. It fluctuates from year to year, but only ranging between 0.5% and 1%. I don't think access to private facilities has expanded in any way."

The report says Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi – who had unveiled his plans for universal healthcare on the same day – said the 81% satisfaction results were "confusing". He said it was strange that there was general unhappiness with the quality of public healthcare, yet the survey suggested 81% of households were satisfied. "It is confusing… But that is their stats, Stats SA."

When asked if his department had canvassed public sentiment over his plans to overhaul the healthcare services, Motsoaledi said they had their own set of stats compiled by the Human Sciences Research Council, dating back to 2009. He, however, did not have those on hand to share with the media.

[link url="https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/81-of-households-that-use-public-healthcare-satisfied-stats-sa-20180622"]News24 report[/link]
[link url="http://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=11241"]General Household Survey 2017[/link]

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