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Facility type and primary care performance in sub-district health promotion hospitals in Northern Thailand
PLOS ONE, Volume: 12, Issue: 3, Start page: e0174055
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This paper examines primary care performance in three types of community health facilities in five provinces in northern Thailand. Tambon (sub-district) health promotion hospitals (THPHs) were introduced in 2009 to upgrade the services offered by the previous health centres, but were hampered by sho...
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This paper examines primary care performance in three types of community health facilities in five provinces in northern Thailand. Tambon (sub-district) health promotion hospitals (THPHs) were introduced in 2009 to upgrade the services offered by the previous health centres, but were hampered by shortages of trained doctors and nurses. The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) designated three categories of THPH, defined according to whether they were regularly staffed by a medical practitioner, a qualified nurse or non-clinical public health officers. While the plan is to move over time to doctor-staffed THPHs, many rural areas rely on facilities staffed by public health officers or nurses. The study used structured interviews to measure patient views on performance, defined in terms of accessibility, continuity, comprehensiveness, co-ordination and community orientation, in 23 THPHs divided across the three types. Counter-intuitively it was the THPHs staffed by public health officers which achieved the highest scores, followed by nurse-staffed facilities and then doctor-staffed facilities. The sharpest differences found were in the scores for accessibility, continuity, and comprehensiveness of care. The authors argue that these are associated with local services, which rural patients in particular value more than services offered by doctors on rotation in larger outpatient department-like centres. Patients value these aspects of care more than professional skill-mix per se. This is not an argument for delaying an increase in use of qualified staff, but an indication of the need to do this in a way that preserves the features of local services that patients value.
The initial analysis was undertaken while Nithra Kitreerawutiwong was a visiting researcher at Swansea University.Open access at:http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0174055
primary care, primary care assessment, primary care performance, health workforce
College of Human and Health Sciences