A quest for reform: a day in the life of Jordan's undercover public sector inspectors
The professor said the deterioration in the quality of public services is blamed on the “decline in ethics” in the Jordanian society,
The government is determined to restore trust and professionalism in state agencies as providers of quality services, according to officials.
As medium- and short-term strategies are in place to develop the performance of the sector, concerned authorities have initiated actions in a bid to strengthen integrity and accountability of public agencies so people can feel improvement in the quality of services they are offered.
Minister of Public Sector Development Khleef Al Khawaldeh explained that over the past two years, the government has upgraded the regulations governing the work of public agencies, applied best standards in human resources management, enacted a law to restructure government entities and implemented measures to boost the quality of services.
One of these measures, he said, is unannounced visits teams from the ministry have been making to several government agencies over the past months “to evaluate services and see how employees deal with people", he added.
The Jordan Times accompanied ministry inspectors on one of their unannounced visits, namely, to Prince Hamzah Hospital, one of Amman's largest and most crowded public health service providers.
The tour begins
The recent visit was carried out by two undercover inspectors, who spent nearly two hours there pretending to be patients seeking medication.
Once they dropped off the car and walked towards the hospital, they started taking notes and photos with their smartphones to document their observations.
The parking lots were jammed with cars without any effort to regulate the process by the hospital staff, the inspectors wrote down.
Once arriving at a main entrance to the building, they found that the main access to people with disabilities was blocked by a car parking there, which would make it difficult for patients who need wheelchairs to enter the hospital.
Inside a specialised clinic, an inspector, who pretended to be accompanying a very sick patient, asked a nurse for a wheelchair. The answer was: “No wheelchairs are available.”
Long queues were noticed at one of the accounting office’s windows as there was only one employee serving dozens of people.
As they continued the tour inside the hospital, which is located in Al Aqsa District in the northeastern corner of Amman, one of the inspectors went to an old man and asked him how long he had been waiting to see the doctor.
“I have been here for over an hour, but usually it takes me more than three hours to get checked out by the doctor,” the old man replied.
When entering the X-ray section, corridors were packed with patients, especially old people, sitting on the floor as no chairs were available.
An inspector bent down to chat with an old man who was sitting on the ground to ask him if he had been waiting for a long time.
“I’ve been here since 8am,” replied the man. It was 10.
One of the inspectors pretended to be among the patients and asked a medical staff member if it would take him long to undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The answer was that the MRI device had been out of service since 8am.
The inspectors then went upstairs to check on the conditions of inpatients. On entry they were told that visiting hours had yet to start.
They told the security man that they had to check on a relative and asked for permission, which they obtained.
Visiting five patients in different rooms, they found that the walls of the rooms were partly damaged by humidity and the bathrooms were without hot water.
Brakes of some beds were broken, while the hospital staff used small stones to keep them immobile.
As they were taking notes of major and minor violations, they stopped near a large board displaying direction signs to the hospital’s units.
On the board there was an ad by a recruitment company offering available employment opportunities for medical cadres in a Gulf country.
On the board there were other announcements that had nothing to do with the facility or its services.
In the emergency building, the officials took down notes, including about cars of visitors partially blocking the entry of the building.
An ambulance from the Civil Defence Department carrying a sick man arrived at the emergency; no medical cadres were on the scene to receive the case, which prompted the CDD personnel to take the patient inside without escort.
Some medications were not available in the hospital’s pharmacy, the inspectors noted.
After they left without exposing their cover, the inspectors compiled a report, which was referred to the minister.
Khawaldeh told The Jordan Times Saturday that the reports are usually sent to Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and concerned ministers to follow up on observations and recommendations as well as to address flaws in the quality of services provided to people.
These findings are also published in daily newspapers as part of ministry’s measures to enhance transparency, the official added.
Public administration and ‘employee mentality’
Commenting on the measures, Ali Mistarihi, a professor of public administration at Yarmouk University, said it is important to implement “good ideas” but consistency is vital towards that end. Jordan’s public administration can re-embrace the excellence it was once known for, when Jordanian qualified personnel were so professional that their help was sought by several countries in the region intent to develop their public sectors.
The most important issue is to make people feel the difference by receiving better services, Mistarihi said, indicating that authorities have made tangible progress in this field over the past three years.
The professor said the deterioration in the quality of public services is blamed on the “decline in ethics” in the Jordanian society, stressing the need to enforce the civil service code of ethics.
- IMF report details the crippling economic effects of conflict in MENA
- Saudi Arabia's plastic consumption 20 times higher than global average
- VAT in Egypt: A guide to taxed and exempted goods
- Go big or go home: Expat salaries soar in Dubai
- Lebanon: Financial analysts warn of long-term economic repercussions after BLOM Bank attack
- Gates announces Microsoft partnerships aligned to Arab Region quest for social and economic development
- Jordan\'s Davos team to highlight economic reform
- Current Political Climate of Jordan
- General Inspector of the Health Sector made an inspection tour
- Rogina: I’ve been Waiting ‘Dignity Day’ for 10 Years