The Free State Health Department established the Office of the Health Ombudsperson to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of stakeholders who make use of health facilities and services in the province. The legislative mandate of the Office of the Health Ombudsperson is drawn from the Constitution, Act 108 of 1996, the National Health Act, Act 61 of 2003 the Free State Health Act, Act 3 of 2009, the Health Charter, Patients Charter and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act as well as Batho Pele Principles.
The purpose of the Office of the Health Ombudsperson is:
- To give members of the community a means of effectively making a complaint about the health services rendered by the Free State Department of Health.
- To independently and impartially respond to health service providers and community complaints.
- To act as a central oversight agency for receiving all health service complaints
To enable the Free State Department of Health to meet its constitutional and legislative obligations as well as extirpation of corruption.
To provide effective and efficient responses to complaints and investigations as well as a transparent, fair and non – discriminate service delivery to all ensuring reliability to the service rendered by the Free State Department of Health through its commitment to Batho Pele Principles.
The office of the Health Ombudsperson is authorized to do the following:
- Access to all relevant records
- To call witnesses
- To determine procedures at inquiries
- To enter all health facilities
- To criticize and make recommendations
- To investigate any individual or entity that is alleged that his/her acts or omissions have prejudiced the Free State Department of Health
- To investigate the Free State Department of Health where it is alleged that its acts or omissions through its employees have prejudiced individuals’ rights
- The office cannot handle all complaints it handles only those within its mandate e.g. court decisions
- Vexatious and frivolous complaints
- Where there is recourse and all other avenues were not exhausted
- Labor relations matters – employee / employer
- Employees as clients have the right to complain
- Matters that are already reported to another forum but not yet resolved
- Free service
- Investigations are inquisitorial
- Investigations speedily handled
- Process flexible
- Process – entails investigating
- Reporting – Feedback mechanism
- Provision of recommendations
- Correct statistics
- Availability of reference material for research
How to Lodge a Complaint
A complaint must be submitted in writing. Unless the complainant is physically unable to do so, it must be in the complainant’s name and the incident that is complained about must have happened in the past 12 months. The complainant must exhaust all avenues of lodging a complaint available within the Free State Health Department before approaching the office of the Health Ombudsperson.
Examples of Complaints that the Office can look into:
- Unnecessary delay – a delay that could have been avoided
- Attitude of personnel – rudeness by personnel and not apologizing for their mistakes
- When you have been treated unfairly, with bias and prejudiced
- Receiving wrong treatment or poor service.
- When you were given wrong, misleading or insufficient advice.
- When you were not correctly diagnosed or given correct treatment
- Where correct procedures were not followed.
- When there are communication problems.
- Appointments that are cancelled without a valid reason
- Any unethical behaviour from officials
- Where rules and regulations were ignored or were not adhered to.
- Abuse of authority by officials.
- Any corrupt activity
What happens when a complaint is lodged?
Assessment for jurisdiction is done. If the complaint does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Office of the Health Ombudsperson, it is referred to the relevant structure / office, and the complainant is immediately informed of the action taken and reasons given.
Once jurisdiction has been established:
- The institution/Department implicated must provide details / information on the allegations.
- The complainant must receive a provisional outcome based on the provisional review within a stated period based on the seriousness of the complaint but must not exceed fourteen (14) working days.
- An outcome of the final review will follow after the determined period above.
The matter is put to rest if there are no further objections or comments. The complainant is informed that the matter is closed.
The complainants are encouraged to express their opinion about the service and a form is provided for this purpose.
Profile of the Chief Executive
The Chief Executive Officer of the Office of the Health Ombudsperson is Advocate Belot. His profile is as follows:
- Born 29 January 1956, married with children and grand children.
- Dip. General Nursing, Dip. Operating Nursing Science, Dip. Orthopaedic Nursing Science –Pelonomi Nursing College.
- Certificate for Junior Managers – Training Institute – Pretoria
- B Juris and LLB Degrees – Vista University
- Certificate in Labour Relations and Certificate Human Resource Management – University of South Africa.
- Certificate for Presiding and Investigator – Labour Solutions – Pietermaritzburg KZN.
- Certificate in Project Management – University of the Free State.
- Admitted as an ADVOVATE in terms of Act 74 of 1964.
- Professional nurse, Senior Professional nurse, Assistant Director Nursing
- Proponent of consent especially informed consent – defended the right of patients to give consent for each and every procedure or operation when taken to the Theatre.
- Participated workshops/Symposia presenting and debating consent.
- Founder member of Pelenomi Hospital Recreation Club, now defunct and Choir– promoting unity in diversity especially in the old dispensation.
- Member of Interim Committee of the Nurses for Transformation
- Member of Board of Primary Progressive Health – NGO.
- Member of the Advocates for Transformation: Free State.
- Still promoting unity in diversity – member of various social clubs, etc.
No. 147 Sinodale Building
Cnr. St Andrew & Pres Brand Streets
Tel: (051) 4479766
Cell: 083 554 9078
Fax: (051) 4478048