KLERKSDORP/TSHEPONG HOSPITAL COMPLEX POLICY ON HANDLING OF MEDIA
(Press and Electronic Media)
The new democratic Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and of access to information. The department has a duty to defend the citizens’ right to know by, amongst other things, allowing the media reasonable access to information.
The way the public servants handles communication with the media is forcing the KT Hospital Complex to take a stand in the way we handle media issues. The KT Hospital Complex acknowledges and respects the rights of members of staff to freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed in the Constitution. However, the KT Hospital Complex also recognizes the need to manage and co-ordinate the flow of official information.
Practice as a health care professional is based upon a relationship of mutual trust between patients and health care practitioners.
In order to properly communicate with the media and other public interaction, employees, in their capacity have the right to make public comments and enter into debate issues. But when doing so, must make it clear that they act in their private capacity.
The purpose is to manage and co-ordinate the information to the media and external stakeholders so as to create consistency in the flow of official information.
- To give guidance to health personnel on how to give effect to our joint commitment to protect and promote the public’s right to know.
- Employees of KT Hospital Complex to respect the confidentiality of information and must communicate with stakeholders only on issues for which they are personally responsible.
- To air criticism internally and be constructive in contributing to the overall effectiveness of the department \ government.
- To improve the quality and effectiveness of our relationship with the media by ensuring transparency, accountability and professionalism.
- To develop a common understanding of our various roles and responsibilities in our interaction with the media.
- To ensure co-ordination, consistency and coherence in our media relations.
To realise a climate where KT Hospital Complex uses the correct channel in dealing with media and can share sensitive and confidential information with its staff without a breach of confidentiality or premature publication of information. Yet, in adopting the principle of transparency, the information will be shared with the media if such information is of public interest.
PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE IMPLEMENTATION OF POLICY
I. To practice Transparency, accountability and openness.
II. The relationship between government and the media should be complementary and mutually beneficial.
- A common desire between KT Hospital Complex and the media to keep the public informed about the activities of the hospital. Media institutions have an interest in securing information about government’s activities.
- Direct internal communication preceding mass media releases
- What information is of public interest and how and when should such information be presented.
- Our relationship with the media must take into account the fact that the core function of the KT Hospital Complex is to provide health care. Relationships with the media should promote this end, rather than detract from it.
- The National Health Amendment Act (2013) states that all patients have a right to
- Consistent with the right to privacy in the South African Constitution (Act No. 108 of 1996).
- Our Democratic constitution, which promotes transparency and accountability.
- North West Department of Health Communication Policy/strategy 2017-2019
- Protected Disclosure Amendment Act No:5 of 2017
- Protected disclosure Act: A practical guide to ethical dilemmas in the workplace.
- National Department Ten Point Plan
- Promotion of Access to Information act No:2 of 2000
Health care establishments are responsible for personal information about their patients and must make sure that such information is effectively protected against improper disclosure at all times.
Where third party or journalists are following up stories of accident victims in our hospitals, hospital managers or official in authority will in consultation with the PRO give them unhindered access to information. This includes the right to interview patients, provided the patient gives informed consent.
The Chief Director shall be informed of the presence of the Journalist. The journalist’s presence in the hospital premises will be managed in a manner that does not disrupt service delivery.
- Confidentiality and privacy
Respect for patient confidentiality; Confidentiality is usually thought of as an ethical issue. It is, but it is also a legal obligation:
- The confidentiality of individual patient records and patient history will be preserved at all times in the hospital dealings with third party including media, unless waived by the patient or his/her guardian, in the case of a minor or the clinical manager if the patient cannot expressly give consent.
- To live up to the patient confidentiality and privacy, where the Journalist request direct patient interview, a written consent of the patient must be obtained. Care will be taken by both the journalist and health personnel to ensure that the patient/client is able to exercise control over the conditions of such interviews (e.g. anonymity, the range of questions that will be entertained, etc.).
- Where the patients are in the vicinity, there will be no unauthorized use of cellphones or camera to take pictures or visuals, unless waived by the patient or hospital authority. Picture or visuals can only be taken with the informed consent of the patient or in a manner that does not disclose identity of patient or others. Where a patient is unable to expressly give consent, the written consent of the clinical manager will be respected.
- Taking of photographs of unconscious patients may amount to gross exploitation of people. It is also acknowledged that mentally derailed/affected people do not have the capacity to make informed consent. In this case, a written consent of the clinical manager must be sort first.
Adopting the principle of transparency and openness does not imply that the department forfeits its right to confidentiality. Neither does it mean that any employee in possession of government information, which is of public interest, is bound to pass it on to the media.
- Bona fide spokespersons
KT Hospital Complex has appointed people who are authorized to speak on its behalf. Only bona fide spokespersons as official representatives of the KT Hospitals Complex are allowed to talk to media. Spokesperson of the KT Hospital Complex will, in accordance with the principles of openness, transparency and accountable government, be accessible to journalists and will provide them with accurate and relevant information.
- 4. Media Relations.
Media will not be used as a platform for rumor-mongering and vilification campaigns. In line with the normal and professional journalistic practice, media respect and allow the KT Hospital Complex’s right of reply in all instances.
No media contact or any information will be send to the media without the knowledge/consultation of the PRO/CEO of the KT Hospital Complex. At all times PRO must be contacted about media issues.
All media enquiries should be directed to the bona fide spokespersons of the Hospital.
All media enquiries should be put in writing so that the hospital can respond promptly. This gives the hospital chance to respond based on facts rather than assumptions. The PRO of the KT Hospital will advise and assist with angels of message to promote consistency and uniformity of information
This policy will take into account the fact that our respective core functions are to provide health care and to deliver news. The adherence to this policy will promote these ends, rather than detract from them. Disciplinary procedure will be taken against those who do not follow the policy.