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Monthly Archives: January 2015

A very manual registration process at the Hope Street Dental Clinic.

This registration process should be computerised! But then, however, this lady probably wouldn’t have a job… TIA.

South Africa’s public health care offers excellent health services, and a lot of it free of charge. However, long waiting times and complicated or hard to find information can be off-putting.

Here some tips to get through the annoying bureaucracy processes as smooth as possible:

Hope Street Dental Clinic is adamant you visit your local dental clinic:

  • There is a public dental clinic in every district. If you’re lucky you get all of these recited, which sounds like a rap singsong and is quite fun.

  • Bring ID and proof of address. Your documents are thoroughly checked. If you don’t live in the capture area you will be send away.

  • If you are already registered with the dental clinic, your ID should be sufficient. However, make sure you bring your PHC Registration Card, so they can find your records. At least know your registration number, as with this you can be allocated in the system.

  • Should you have forgotten your documents, go to the receptionist first thing. If you’re already registered they can find you under your name, but will put you at the end of the queue as it takes some digging and they won’t delay others waiting.

Hope Street Dental Clinic has a first come, first serve policy for registration and initial check:

  • Arrive early at about 7am to stay ahead of the queue. If you arrive late (after 10am) they might send you away.

  • The dental clinic only opens at 7.30am so be prepared to wait outside for a while. Usually there are others waiting with you and you can have friendly conversations.

  • The doctor only arrives at 9am. Yes, that is 2 hours waiting just to be seen. If you’re unlucky there’s only one doctor. Then it’s waiting in line one after one.

  • Once the doctor arrives it goes quite quickly. You will only be seen to determine necessary treatment, which is fast. Then you get an appointment which requires no more waiting time. I was 7th in line and out of there after half an hour.

  • It is really just the first time that waiting is required. Once you’re registered you can ask for appointments given that you consult your dentist regularly. My total waiting time that morning was 2 ½ hours, it flew by, as our queue was very chatty. In return I got a free check-up, fillings, teeth cleaning, and made some new friends.

Free dental health care is really rare to come by. I’d say don’t look into the horse’s mouth with regards to the waiting time. Of course this could be improved. Out of experience I can say 2 ½ hours for getting into the system is not even that bad. Plus, staff and fellow queuers are so friendly, it’s rather an experience than a bother.


Make sure you come prepared: Documentation needed when visiting a State Health Facility in SA

Make sure you come prepared: Documentation needed when visiting a State Health Facility in SA

Relocating to a new country can bring along some worries, for example health and safety concerns. One of the things I like to discover in my new surroundings is: What health services does the government have to offer?

To my surprise and relief South Africa’s public sector uses a Uniform Patient Fee Schedule, which allows the majority of the population to receive free health care.

Having experienced in the UK what free public health services can mean, I was not only curious to find out how it might go in South Africa, but also prepared for the worst.

However, I have nothing really to complain about besides that waiting times can be long – but where are they not – and that maybe those kind souls working in public services could do with an IT injection and get their documents and processes digitalised – but hey, TIA.

Within all the public services there’s one where the ‘free’ mostly succumbs: The dentist. Where in the world do you get free dental treatment? Apparently in South Africa!

Every primary healthcare clinic or centre in the Western Cape provides basic dental and oral health services free of charge: Western Cape Government Dental / Oral Health Services

I tested this at Hope Street Dental Clinic:

So far I had two small holes filled and my teeth cleaned, all free of charge.
While cleaning teeth might be a straight forward job, when it comes to fillings I’m very fussy, mostly because I never before needed one. The more I was relieved to receive top quality service. My cavities were removed and filled with white ceramic, which the doctor took special care of to sculpt back into a smooth surface. I haven’t had any further problems.

If you want to give public health services in SA a try, read my ‘Tips for going to the dentist’.

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