UMMC in crisis, alone??

From the Malay Mail,,

“UMMC in crisis” blared the headlines. Indeed there are pressing matters that need attention.

The shortage of manpower

Staff from doctors to nurses are leaving for purportedly greener pastures. Yes, they are being replaced, usually by more junior ranked individuals.

Many nurses are leaving for the Middle East, where the salary is 5-10 times the amount that they earn here. Thus working there for a year equates to 5-10 years of work in Malaysia, and mind you, it is tax-exempted as well.

Doctors are not being retained as there is little attempt to understand their individual needs. In an academic institution, a blanket objective cannot be applied to all, as each will have their strengths and weaknesses in different areas. For example, a good teacher may be sidelined in University of Malaya as the blanket ruling of publications is enforced. As such, many passionate teachers in medicine leave for other institutions.

Many staff are promoted based on seniority rather than competence. As such, top administrators within the hospital may not be the best individual for the job. Many younger and talented individuals become frustrated with their development stunted by inefficient and incompetent senior officers.

Retaining staff is an art and cannot be bulldozed. A better Human Resource Department is needed. Also required are top administrators who are more in tuned to the actual situation on the ground.

Bed situation

UMMC is one the sole “government” hospitals within the Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur area. The number of patients are rising exponentially. This is incongruent with the rise in the number of staff and beds at the university. As such, this discrepancy has led to a congestion of patients that is almost a daily occurence in UMMC.

There is no way that the hospital can keep up with the rising number of patients. What is needed, in fact, is a new government hospital in the vicinity. There are many private hospitals eg Assunta, Sime Darby Medical Center, Pantai Hospital, Damansara Specialist Center, Tropicana Medical Center, Kelana Jaya Medical Center etc within the area. However, as private hospitals, some of them are so underutilised as the cost is exorbitant. In an uncertain economic time, many turn to a cheaper and subsidised alternative. The closest government hospital is HUKM, Cheras (which by the way closes admission once the number of beds are full, as opposed to UMMC, which has an “always open” policy) , Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Hospital Selayang and Hospital Sungai Buluh. Most of these government hospitals are not within the Petaling Jaya area.

With such a huge population base, keeping up with the rise in number of patients is going to be very tough. Mind you, the waiting hours in the Emergency for private hospitals can be hours as well ( from personal experiences ).

Not alone

It remains a mystery why UMMC was handpicked for this highlight. The situation is certainly not confined to UMMC alone. Many other hospitals face the same dilemma. Take for instance, Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah in Klang, the workload there is heavy and on most occasions, it wards are overflowing. Sure, they can send up to the wards very quickly, only to spend their time sleeping at the corridors.

So the broader picture should be looked at here. Issues that plaque the system need urgent attention. UMMC is certainly not alone here! In fact, I think many patients at least spend their waiting time in relative comfort as opposed to many other hospitals!