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Client waiting time in an urban primary health care centre in Lagos

MR Akinyinka
BI Adebayo
KO Wright
A Adeniran


Background: Primary Health Care is the usual entry point into the health system and has the potential to touch the lives of most people. However one of the reasons for poor uptake of health services at primary health care facilities in Nigeria is long waiting time. This study was carried out to assess client waiting time and attitude towards services received at an urban Primary Health Centre in Lagos State.

Methodology: The study design was quasi experimental (before and after) with a descriptive, cross sectional study component. Client flow analysis and client exit interviews were conducted among consenting patients attending the General Out patient Clinic within the first 2 weeks of July 2013, using flow analysis charts and an interviewer- administered questionnaire. Four doctors from the Teaching Hospital's Department of Community Health started attending to patients as the intervention, and the flow analysis charts were administered in the immediate post intervention period. Analysis was conducted using the statistical package for social sciences version 19.

Results: The majority of clients interviewed were females (80%). Client waiting time was long with patients spending an average of 137.6±70 minutes before seeing a doctor for an average of 8.6±12 minutes. Over 90% of clients had a favourable attitude towards the services received at the PHC, although 54.3% felt improvements were needed. The waiting time reduced to an average of 88.7±45 minutes upon an increase in the number of doctors providing medical consultations.

Conclusion: Reducing client waiting time at Primary Health Care centres is achievable and may improve patronage and ultimately serve as a cost effective strategy in health care delivery on a national scale.

Keywords: Client waiting time, Primary health care,  Flow analysis