13 December 2019
The St Helena Health Directorate has been transferring patients requiring overseas specialist care to Pretoria, South Africa, since 2018. Prior to this, patients had been referred to Cape Town.
The move from Cape Town to Pretoria has allowed patients to reach their accommodation and/or hospital admission after one flight.
Acting Director of Health, Dr Kamar Tanyan, commented:
“Previously, medical referrals had to travel to Johannesburg via the SA Airlink flight, which would arrive late on a Saturday night, spend the night in a hotel, and then depart Johannesburg on Sunday for Cape Town. A meet and greet service and transport to and from the hotel had been organised in Johannesburg and Cape Town. After the completion of medical treatment, a flight would be booked from Cape Town to Johannesburg on the Friday evening, followed by an overnight stay in a hotel. The patients would then catch the flight back to St Helena on a Saturday morning.
“Feedback received from patients suggested the stopover in Cape Town Airport and transport within the Airport, especially by wheelchairs, were problematic for elderly or very ill patients being referred for care.”
Overseas referrals are now sent to the Netcare Unitas Hospital – one of the largest private hospitals in South Africa, located in Centurion, Pretoria. The Natanja Guest House and Lyttlewoods Guest House accommodations are approximately five minutes away from the Hospital and 15 minutes walk to shops and restaurants.
A year on, the Health Directorate has reported that 84 patients have been referred to Pretoria – slightly more than the 75 patients referred in 2017-18. More complex cases are being referred so that patients can access highly specialised centres and specialists. To date, the waiting list for overseas referrals is now cleared.
The Health Directorate is continuously improving communication with their partners in South Africa and are developing remote support from specialists via telemedicine. The Directorate is also continuing dialogue and monitoring with MSO to ensure the comfort of patients and their families in South Africa. Pastoral care, which is appreciated by referred patients, is now delivered by a dedicated team.
This move has proved cost effective as a sum of £300k was saved over the last year in comparison to the costs spent on referrals to Cape Town. This saving allows the Health Directorate to re-allocate resources based on needs in all areas of service delivery.
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13 December 2019