12 December 2009

HEALTHCARE SUCCESS: IJN could show the way to hospitals


DR A. KHAN, Bukit Mertajam

I REFER to Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai's statement on Dec 5 in which he declared the National Heart Institute (IJN) was not for sale and that its doctors were not highly paid, but still preferred to give their service to the community.

As a cardiologist who has been in the government service for more than 10 years (with some training obtained from IJN as well), I would like to inform the minister that it is a well-known fact that all doctors in IJN are paid well and their salaries are comparable to that of medical consultants in the private sector.

Doctors at IJN also get other perks such as insurance schemes for family members, company cars and conference leave. This is possible because IJN has successfully broken away from the clutches of the bureaucracy in the Malaysian civil service. While IJN is a government-linked company, it has full freedom to hire, promote and retain senior staff with experience and expertise.

While we dwell on IJN's success as a heart hospital, it would be well to remind ourselves that it is human resources that make or break a hospital.

The fact that IJN has come this far is because it has managed to retain senior doctors and personnel with good salaries, a good working environment and reasonable promotion prospects -- conditions that are almost absent in the bureaucracy-ridden hospitals of the Health Ministry.

I suggest that the ministry study IJN's model of success -- particularly in human-resources management, salary structures and the provision of promotion prospects -- and apply these principles to the civil service. Only then can it stem the severe brain drain in government hospitals.

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