Pictured in front of the N1 City Hospital’s state-of-the art Interventional Operating Theatre Suite, which allows intraoperative MRI scanning for oncology patients, is (from left): Dr Anton van Wyk, Hospital Manager, Lettie Blom, Nursing Services Manager and Professor Stuart Whittaker, CEO of COHSASA.

The N1 City Hospital of the Netcare Group, situated in the northern suburbs of Cape Town, has become the latest private hospital in South Africa to be accredited by The Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA).

The accreditation award for this 225-bed specialist hospital in Goodwood is valid for the next three years (until 2013) and means that all 39 services evaluated at the hospital met the rigorous requirements of the COHSASA programme and reached compliance with standards which have been approved by the International Society for Quality of Health Care.

More than 3000 criteria in the hospital were evaluated in the Council’s external survey in October 2010 when the hospital achieved an overall score of 97 out of a possible 100. Eight areas of service in the hospital, including clinical areas such as pharmaceutical, radiation oncology and the dietetics services scored 100. The hospital was previously accredited by COHSASA in 1996 and 1998, both times for two years. From May 2005 to May 2008 it was awarded ISO 9001:2000 accreditation by CHKS: HAQU (Healthcare Accreditation and Quality Unit), previously known as HQS (Health Quality Services).

Driving the quality improvement and accreditation process has been Hospital Manager, Dr Anton van Wyk and Nursing Services Manager, Lettie Blom. Asked how she and the staff at the hospital had experienced the COHSASA accreditation process, Blom commented, “We enjoyed the fact that we were working with a South African programme and that it employed expressions and terms with which we are familiar. The descriptions of the criteria are clear and easy to understand. The fact that the   COHSASA surveyors were directly contactable and available to us at all times was also a plus. We also appreciated the strong clinical focus of the COHSASA approach.”

Dr Anton van Wyk said, “I am a systems thinker and it pleases me that some of the policies and procedures we have developed at N1 City Hospital have been adopted at a national level in Netcare. The Matrix system, which proved to be useful and helped us a lot, made it easier for us to link policies across the board.”

According to Blom, an added plus was the Matrix System, developed by COHSASA’s technical consultants over the past year, which links standards and criteria that may impact on each other and the “transparent” scoring system. She said that the rigorous requirements of the COHSASA assessment process, which asks for evidence that policies are being implemented, means that the evaluation is extremely thorough and that COHSASA is not merely about window-dressing.