HMC’s orthopaedic clinics cut waiting time

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Daisy

From next month, the Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC’s) Orthopaedic Department will introduce a fixed appointment system geared towards reducing the long waiting time at its clinics.
“In February, we will start the fixed appointment system whereby patients will only need to fax their referral to us to book their appointment and we hope  this move will help us in reducing waiting time further,” orthopaedic, pelvic and hip surgery consultant Dr Ghalib O Ahmed al-Kubaisi told Gulf Times yesterday.
He explained that under the new system, patients would no longer need to come and book appointment in person but only to fax their referrals to the department’s call centre where their appointment would be processed.
“Once patients have sent us their referrals, we will call to inform them later about the date of the appointment aside placing a reminder call as the appointment date approaches,” he said.
 “We have a long waiting list due to deficiency in the number of operating theatres and the lack of bed space to admit patients, but when the new ambulatory theatre opens, we hope to see this list reduced.”
He recalled that an increase in number of clinics had greatly helped in reducing the waiting time.
“Previously, there used to be a very long waiting time at the spinal clinic because that is the clinic where the largest number of patients come but with the increase in the number of clinics at the spinal sub-specialty, we have been able to reduce the waiting time further,” he pointed out.
Dr al-Kubaisi said that in the spinal clinic now, a patient might only need to wait up to one week to see a specialist in the evening clinics, especially if the case was urgent.
“For the operating theatre, the waiting time could be between one to three months and this is so because some patients may insist on a particular surgeon who may have already been fully booked at the time. But if a patient is flexible and do not mind any surgeon, they tend to get a shorter waiting period,” he pointed out.
Dr al-Kubaisi  said the department had introduced a first of its kind on-call endorsement system one-and-a-half years ago.
“We are the only department in HMC that is having this kind of system in place. It is helping solve some of the problems regarding orthopaedic trauma patients in need of surgery,” he said. “They initially require to wait up to seven days to see their consultants when he will take another call to do the operation. Now, once a patient is admitted, if the surgery is not done on the same day or the next, the case will be endorsed for the next on-call surgeon or team. This has improved our elective operation and help free up a number of beds.”
There are about 72 beds altogether in the department, he said.
“We have also developed a master schedule for the orthopaedic surgeon in order to book them ahead, so each surgeon knows when he is next on-call, at least for up to one year,” he said.
According to Dr al-Kubaisi, the orthopaedic department consists three units – patients’ service; education – orthopaedic residency training programme to graduate competent orthopaedic surgeons; and orthopaedic fellowship programmes like spine and orthopaedic trauma.
In  future, he said the paediatric orthopaedic fellowship and ankle and foot sub-specialty for ankle and foot surgery would be introduced.
“We opened the clinical fellowship programme last year, in future we will expand to open more sub-specialisation fellowship to cover all sub-specialties because our aim is to graduate competent orthopaedic surgeons in order to cover our needs,” he said.