New health hotline cuts rush by 40pc.
Bahrain: A New hotline, set up to reduce the rush at health centres, has registered more than 9,500 calls daily, it was revealed.
The facility, introduced last month by the Health Ministry to schedule medical appointments, has led to a 40 per cent drop in the number of patients flocking at the clinics, health centres director Dr Seema Mohammed Zainal told the GDN.
It has also helped tackle issues like parking problems and complaints about calls to health centres not being answered.
The GDN reported last month that the hotline (80007000) was launched in Muharraq covering six health centres: NBB Health Centre in Arad, BBK Health Centre in Hidd, Shaikh Salman Health Centre, Muharraq Health Centre, NBB Health Centre in Dair and Bahrain International Airport Clinic.
From July 18, the service was expanded to include all 28 health centres in Bahrain.
"The hotline has been a huge success," said Dr Zainal.
"We have seen a drastic reduction, at least by 40pc, in the number of people gathering at the health centres after the hotline was introduced.
"It receives more than 9,500 calls every day.
"Besides, there used to be parking issues with limited facilities and overcrowding but that has been tackled because people now report to the centres at the appointed time.
"Earlier, patients used to wait for three to four hours to see a doctor and this affected working people as they had to take a day off even to accompany a sick family member."
Dr Zainal said the number of complaints about telephone calls not being answered had also reduced drastically.
"Earlier, I used to be bombarded with complaints that calls made to the health centres were not being answered.
"The problem was caused by the health centre staff answering calls and giving out appointments besides doing their regular jobs.
"Now we have nine employees dedicated to the hotline which is located at the ministry's Rufaida Building in Salmaniya.
"Even if people call a health centre, the calls are automatically diverted to the hotline."
Dr Zainal said the ministry was trying to assess the need to extend the working hours of the hotline which currently functions from 7am until 3pm.
"We have noticed that the maximum number of calls are received between 7am and noon.
"But we are anticipating the number to go up after the summer and vacation season ends."
To increase awareness of the hotline, patients visiting health centres are given a card with the details.
"We also have flyers displayed everywhere. Health centre staff also explain the facility to the people."
The hotline also offers the option to cancel or reschedule an appointment at least two hours before the appointed time.
This facility is in addition to online bookings which are already available to Muharraq residents on the ministry's website, a service initiated by the National Health Information System (I-Seha).
This service is soon expected to be implemented in other areas as well.
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