The Health Ministry is encouraging private general practitioners (GPs) and contract doctors to cooperate with the ministry in its initiative to extend operating hours at 52 selected health clinics nationwide.
Health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the collaboration would help the ministry reduce the workload faced by health workers and ensure the best service for the people.
“As stated before, extension of the operating hours of the selected health clinics is still at the audit stage and it is almost finished.
“The extension of the operating hours is not in all clinics, but is only for clinics that provide services to the hospital and this action will help reduce the current congestion faced by the hospitals.
“So far we have identified 52 health clinics that need an extension in operating hours. In fact, the ministry will also take the initiative to identify the required human resources and how they can help the implementation of this programme.
“Whether there will be an increase in staff, we encourage contract doctors to join or work with GPs to participate in this programme,” she said at a press conference after concluding the Selangor state level World Kidney Day celebrations today.
In January, Dr Zaliha said health clinic operations would be extended to address the problem of overcrowding in hospital emergency departments.
She said the respective state Health Directors have been instructed to re-examine the needs of health clinics and operate overtime.
She said the overcrowding issue was more pronounced in urban areas, due to increasing population, as well as the tendency of patients to seek services at ministry’s hospitals and clinics.
However, the announcement received various reactions from the public and doctors who feared that the extension of the operating hours would add to the burden of work that had to be shouldered by health workers.
The spokesperson for Gerakan Hartal Doktor Kontrak (HDK), Dr Muhammad Yassin said the ministry should increase staff at all clinics that are ordered to operate overtime, to reduce the burden on existing staff.
He said in increasing the operating hours of health clinics, the issue that needs to be emphasised was the lack of staff in the health sector.
“Many doctors quit, nurses have migrated to work in Saudi Arabia, medical officers chose to serve in private medicine, so this (shortage) only adds to the burden on existing staff.
“If it is true that the ministry wants to continue this (increasing operating hours), the health clinic staff needs to be increased, in addition to maintaining the existing ones,” he said. – NST