Patient satisfaction with primary health care services in a selected district municipality of the Eastern Cape of South Africa
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Traditionally, decisions about health services were made on the basis of health-provider and health authorities' views on what is in the best interest of the patient. This was based on a view that members of the general public lack the technical knowledge to make fully informed decisions themselves. Currently, the use of patient satisfaction surveys (PSS) in developing countries is advancing. Professionals have recognized that a systematic and consumer oriented perspective toward patient viewpoints about the level of care can result in feedback useful for promoting higher quality standards of patient care. Patient satisfaction surveys are seen as a means of determining patients' views on primary health care. These surveys are increasingly being promoted as a means of understanding health care service quality and the demand for these services in developing countries for various reasons. First, they highlight those aspects of care that need improvement in a health care setting (Ajayi, Olumide & Oyediran 2005; Muhondwa et al. 2008; Newman et al. 1998). Second, they are simple, quick and inexpensive to administer. Third, they are critical for developing measures to increase the utilization of PHC services. Fourth, they can help to educate medical staff about their achievements as well as their failures, assisting them to be more responsive to their patients' needs. Fifth, they allow managerial judgment to be exercised from a position of knowledge rather than guesswork in the important task of managing public expectations and resources (Glick 2009). The South African government also endorses the centrality of consumers in service delivery. The White Paper on Transforming Public Services of 1997 (Department of Public Service and Administration 1997) and the Department of Health's policy on quality in health care (Department of Health 2007) state that public services need to respond to customers' needs,
wants and expectations. Feedback from consumers is required in terms of experiences of health services quality of care received. Feedback from customers will not only improve 86 Modern Approaches To Quality Control knowledge of decision makers, but will also facilitate more improved prioritization, improved strategic resource allocation and improved value for money. It will also serve as a platform for providing better services to citizens. Against this background, a patient satisfaction survey with PHC services was conducted in a selected district of the Eastern Cape.