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Thursday, 6 February 2014

Pensioners face woes at UMMC

Troublesome situation: Lim showing his medicine, which helps to lower his blood platelet count, at his home in Subang.

Troublesome situation: Lim showing his medicine, which helps to lower his blood platelet count, at his home in Subang.

PETALING JAYA: Universiti Malaya Medical Centre’s (UMMC) private pharmacy Pharm UMMC is no longer dispensing certain medicine to pensioners, causing inconvenience to thousands.

The hospital with one of the highest number of pensioners in the country suspended Oratis Services Sdn Bhd, the company that the Public Services Department (PSD) appointed to supply medication and medical devices not in hospitals’ formulary list (standard list) within its network of pharmacies. It was over non-payment issues.

UMMC took the drastic measure as it could not sustain the accumulated debt, which had hit RM4mil.

UMMC director Prof Datuk Dr Ikram Shah Ismail said UMMC had suspended Oratis Services over the debt, noting that the medical centre needed funds to pay drug suppliers.

“Presently, we absorb this debt using our internal funds but we cannot go on (like this).

“Otherwise, we may not have money to pay our staff their salary. That’s how bad it has become,” he said in an interview.

Dr Ikram said UMMC had not closed its doors totally to Oratis Services but the debt must be settled.

About 9,000 pensioners seek outpatient treatment at the hospital monthly, a big portion of its total of more than 40,000 patients. Out of the average 4,000 to 5,000 patients, some 400 to 500 seek inpatient treatment.

PSD had appointed Oratis Services since Feb 12, 2012 to manage the Electronic Medical Automation Supply System (e-MASS) for pensioners to collect non-formulary medication and medical devices at e-MASS registered pharmacies without needing to make payment.

Previously, pensioners had to pay for them at a private pharmacy and then apply for a reimbursement from the PSD.

Oratis Services managing director Rahimah Rais said they were in the midst of finding a solution, adding: “We are in discussion with UMMC’s private wing Universiti Malaya Specialist Centre to see if the drugs and medical devices could be supplied through the pharmacy there.”

Oratis Services CEO Azrita Abdul Samat said pensioners’ complaints were confined to UMMC as other teaching hospitals had only one standard list or that non-formulary prescriptions were within the confine of online order.

Non-formulary medicine were usually prescribed by lecturers at teaching hospitals and were usually newer drugs or more expensive ones.

She said pensioners need only go to the Oratis Services officers at Pharm UMMC to get the list of pharmacies near them, or fill up a form to request for the medicine to be couriered to them.

Azrita said the problem arose when Pharm UMMC, one of the 500 pharmacies in its list, suspended Oratis Services’ service on Nov 15 last year for non-payment in October and November.

She explained that the reason was they had not received funds from PSD then.

PSD’s post-service (pensions) division director Datuk Yeow Chin Kiong (pic) said there was no outstanding sum owed to Oratis as of 2013.

He said the delay was due to the increase in the volume of pensioners getting the drugs from the e-Mass system as it had made it easy for them to collect the drugs without needing to make any payment.

The number of such transactions increased from 18,183 in 2012 to 55,668 last year, while the number of new pensioners seeking medical treatment increased from 9,530 in 2012 to 12,399 last year (an increase of 30%), he said.

Pensioners can call 03-8885 4873 or 1-800-88-6627 for details.

Senior citizens given runaround for medication

Tags / Keywords: Health , Government , PSD , Oratis Services and UMMC s responses


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