MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Govt plans to work with private hospitals to address congestion


PARLIAMENT | The government plans to cooperate with private hospitals and clinics to address congestion problems at Health Ministry facilities, the Dewan Rakyat heard today.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Fadillah Yusof, the Health Ministry is also ramping up its activities to promote a healthy lifestyle among the rakyat to serve as a preventive measure.

He said the government had built many new hospitals and upgraded old ones over the years, along with increasing the number of healthcare workers, but ministry’s facilities have continued to be overwhelmed with a high number of patients.

Following this, Fadilah pointed out, the government has formed a special task force on public sector reforms which came out with a suggestion for the Health Ministry to cooperate with the private sector as a short and medium-term solution.

"Under this cooperation, non-critical case patients can go seek treatment at private facilities in case government hospitals can't provide them with services due to long queues and such.

"So, these cases would be given to the private for a sum of fees which have been negotiated. This is for a short and medium-term solution, while we build more hospitals and add staff according to the needed specialities," he said in answering a question posed by Oscar Ling (Harapan-Sibu) during Prime Minister's Question Time this morning.

Deputy Prime Minister Fadillah Yusof

Fadillah was answering the question on behalf of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was away on an official working trip overseas.

On top of this, he said the Health Ministry is also going to extend the operating hours for district health clinics until midnight.

Further, the deputy prime minister said congestion at public hospitals is also an indicator of the rakyat's confidence in the services the ministry is providing.

This was on top of the services being given for almost free of charge, and definitely much cheaper compared to when patients go to the private facilities.

However, on the downside, he pointed out that it could also be a sign that Malaysians had not been living a healthy lifestyle - hence the high number of cases.

"That is why the Health Ministry is also promoting a healthy lifestyle culture. This is a preventive measure which we should focus on.

"All MPs also should organise programmes with doctors to promote a healthy lifestyle to the rakyat, so that they no longer need to depend on hospitals," Fadillah said.

Last week, Anwar in his Budget 2023 speech also acknowledged the problem of hospital congestion.

He reportedly said the government will try to optimise the country’s healthcare capacity by redirecting patients in congested hospitals to other hospitals such as university hospitals, army hospitals and private hospitals.

A number of government hospitals had reportedly been facing problems of overcrowding.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim

Earlier this month, The Star reported that the situation at some emergency departments at government hospitals was so bad that the wait time for beds can stretch to two days or more.

Doctors who spoke to the daily, on condition of anonymity, said the congestion was mainly caused by the shortage of beds and manpower crunch.

Among the hospitals which had been identified as having such problems was the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, Selangor, which in early February had to close its emergency department to non-critical cases.

The problem reportedly pushed Health Ministry's already thin workforce to bear an increasing workload. It has also led to rumours of an unplanned strike by healthcare workers, who were said to have been burned out.

An online poll by health news website CodeBlue recently found widespread dissatisfaction and anger among government healthcare workers.

It claimed the feelings were not limited to contract medical officers who protested against their treatment last year. - Mkini

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