14 October 2007

Longer hours for clinics near busy hospitals

The Star

PUTRAJAYA: The operating hours of selected government health clinics located near busy hospitals will be extended to provide the sick better and quicker access to treatment.

Elective surgeries will also be carried out on Saturdays to lessen the backlog of such cases. Both moves are expected to begin next year.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the 33 health clinics picked were located around hospitals that experienced “flooding” of patients at their accident and emergency (A&E) department after 5pm.

The extended hours will be from 5pm to midnight on working days and the clinics will stay open from 8am to midnight on public holidays.

The areas include those surrounding Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, Sarawak Hospital in Kuching, Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Seberang Jaya Hospital in Penang, Kajang Hospital, Tuanku Jaafar Hospital in Seremban, Penang Hospital and Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang.

“We are doing this so we can lessen the number of patients which flood the A&E at certain hospitals. Most patients at A&E departments are not patients who need emergency treatment.

" And because of this, cases which need immediate attention do not get the full attention of the doctors," he said.

Dr Chua said on an average 70% of those who visit the A&E departments were not emergency patients but those who preferred to see doctors after they finished working.

Doctors will be paid an overtime allowance of RM30 per hour and Dr Chua said the ministry was looking to increase this to RM40.

He added that private sector doctors were also welcome to apply to work for these clinics during the extended hours.

Dr Chua also said the ministry would have elective surgeries performed on Saturdays at 19 hospitals involving 41 operating theatres beginning next year.

“The main reason is to lessen the number of backlog cases and waiting time for operations at hospitals. If we are not careful, the elective ones will have to wait up to six months, which we think is unfair. It is too long and should be about three months,” he said.

The operation cost for this would be about RM7mil annually, he added.

There are currently 966 surgeons and 248 anaesthetists. A total of 782,514 surgeries were done last year where 65% of them were for emergency cases.

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