Private hospitals have hailed a decision by the health ministry to open the doors to foreign nurses working in Malaysia.
Dr Kuljit Singh, president of the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia, said the ministry’s decision would help private hospitals meet the increasing number of patients seeking private medical care.
The association had announced yesterday that the ministry had exempted foreign nurses from meeting a requirement for post-basic qualifications. Kuljit said the requirement was only needed for specialist nurses, not normal nurses.
Only specialist nurses in fields such as critical care, paediatrics or mental health had been allowed to work in Malaysia, on a strictly regulated basis.
The exemption allows all foreign nurses to now work in the country.
“This is what we have been asking for – normal nurses, not specialist nurses — so we can open more beds to cater to patients seeking private healthcare,” he told FMT.
Kuljit said the lack of sufficient nurses had hindered the ability of private hospitals to make more beds available for the increased number of patients seeking private medical care.
However, the Malayan Nurses Union said the government must work out a long-term plan to ensure a sustainable supply of nurses.
Union president Nor Hayati Abd Rashid said the exemption was a positive move to help overcome the acute shortage of nurses, but private hospitals must come up with “their own way of tackling this problem, for instance, they could have their own colleges for training”.
However, she said, “we cannot compromise on the quality of services. These are the things that need to be looked into”.
Azrul Khalib, CEO of the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, said the government’s decision shows that Malaysia’s healthcare system is experiencing enormous pressure due to the shortage of skilled healthcare workers.
He said Malaysia is not producing enough healthcare workers, and is failing to retain those who are already in the system.
“We need to strategise to retain them and incentivise these critical individuals to remain in Malaysia, whether in the government or private sector,” he told FMT. – FMT