Public hospitals need attention

By Dr Timothy Cheng

I REFER to the letter “Need for healthcare reforms” (The Star, July 24).

The Health Ministry is urged to provide healthcare service to all, regardless of nationality. The issue of migrant workers is not the responsibility of the Ministry. The failure of the Immigration Department and other related government bodies has resulted in the sorry state we have today so why should the burden be put on the Ministry? It is very unfair to pressure doctors to withhold healthcare from those who deserve it to “save the country’s money”.

I have served in Hospital Lahad Datu for over a year and it is saddening to see non-Malaysian patients being treated based on how much money they have in their pockets. The Hippocratic Oath that we took as junior doctors has been thrown out of the window for the sake of the country’s finances.

It is high time that drastic action is taken against irresponsible employers, the border patrol security tightened and other necessary measures to handle this.

 The 1Care proposal may seem like a good idea but we must not forget the basic facilities of the hospital, such as electricity and water supply. Hospital Lahad Datu suffers from electricity cuts at least once a week and occasionally runs out of water. This affects the air-conditioning system in the operating theatres, resulting in wasted time and money from postponed operations. Fluctuating temperature and humidity levels during operations increase the risk of infection. The humidity level of one of the operating theatres hit 100% just last week.

This is caused by the failure of the building management system which has broken down for a decade. Countless meetings have been held but to no effect and the answer is always “we are working on it”. The state Government is aware of this and has pushed the responsibility to the maintenance company to solve this problem.

Lack of staff in the hospital has also affected the quality of care we provide, for example, one ICU bed closed because of lack of trained ICU nurses, inadequate number of operating theatre nurses to assist operations, etc. Meanwhile, many freshly graduated nurses are forced to work part-time because they have not been called for work by the Public Service Commission. Why is this so?

There is a lack of mentoring among the administration in government hospitals. Directors are nearly always the most senior doctors in the hospital and replacements follow seniority, regardless of capability or leadership skills. This results in disempowerment of the younger generation and the progress of the hospital can stagnate if left in the hands of a complacent doctor.

This is only the tip of the iceberg on the issues that ail our government hospitals. I can only give a perspective from the hospital I work in and I encourage colleagues from other hospitals and primary care centres to voice out your issues to be heard. There is no point in discussing further proposals and new fangled ideas if the basic infrastructure of a hospital is not functioning properly and human resource is not handled wisely.

TIMOTHY CHENG

Hospital Lahad Datu

Source: Public hospitals need attention

 

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