Tackling hospital overcrowding

LETTERS: It is heartening to note that the Health Ministry is taking steps to address overcrowding in public hospitals, particularly in emergency departments.

One option that has not been explored as much is the feasibility of partnerships with private hospitals.

The upsides of this move are manifold. With private hospitals in the big picture, patients would have more options to turn to.

Many private hospitals have the specialists and the facilities.

In the case of a viral TikTok video, a senior citizen who waited almost 12 hours for an appointment could have received treatment at UCSI Hospital's Heart and Lung Centre.

Even after factoring in a 45-minute journey to Port Dickson, the patient would have received treatment upon arrival.

With resident cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgery services and 24-hour availability, private hospitals are well positioned to ease the congestion in public hospitals.

This bodes well for elderly citizens.

At the height of the pandemic, government hospitals transferred patients to private hospitals.

Private hospitals also lend a helping hand to patients, providing surgeries and medical treatments at reduced rates when medical facilities at government hospitals are being serviced or unavailable.

The problem of overcrowded hospitals is not new.

The 2018 Auditor General's Report shed light on patient congestion, identifying a shortage of healthcare personnel, insufficient allocations and lack of facilities to meet patient needs as the factors behind overcrowded public hospitals.

With a larger hospital pool in play and the sharing of data like patient flow, the problem of overcrowding can be tackled at its roots.

In Negri Sembilan, there are two private hospitals that provide cardiothoracic surgeries.

The formation of a network between public and private hospitals in states that provide these services would serve as the first step to remedying the problem.

A good example would be the partnership between Kuala Lumpur Hospital and Institut Jantung Negara for percutaneous coronary intervention cases.

With the network established, public and private hospitals could work out a model that caps the ceiling charges for surgery and non-surgery cases for patients who transfer.

The ceiling charges would have to factor in doctor's consultation fees and reduced bed rates.

Patients who undergo surgery or emergency procedures can transfer to public hospitals for continuous care.

Greater links between public and private hospitals could present a long-term solution to a perennial problem.


Director of Business Development

UCSI Hospital, Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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