KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry is looking into the feasibility of setting up private wings in government hospitals to halt the brain drain of specialists and doctors.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said a committee, headed by his deputy Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad, had been formed to look into all aspects of the proposal such as legislation, use of human resources and fees.
The committee will study the matter closely and come up with a decision on whether it can be implemented.
I expect a working model to be ready within two months, he told reporters after a three-hour dialogue with the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) yesterday.
The Government proposed last year that private wings be set up in government hospitals administered by the Health Ministry to attract more specialists and enable serving doctors to enjoy better remuneration by providing treatment at reasonable charges.
The wings would offer facilities similar to private hospitals, such as private rooms with attached bathrooms and television.
Currently, private wings are available at the University Malaya Medical Centre and Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, both of which are under the Education Ministry.
Dr Chua said if the committee, whose members include MMA representatives, found the arrangement feasible, it would come up with the working model.
It will cover issues like how much time a government doctor will be given to work in the private wing, he said, adding that MMA recently submitted a proposal to the ministry on the matter.
Dr Chua said if the committee found that implementing the private wing was not feasible, it would have to look for an alternative to stop the brain dran.
Maybe doctors could be allowed to do locum, he said.
On unfilled positions in the government medical service, Dr Chua said there were currently around 3,000 vacancies.
He said that 40% of 1,200 positions for specialists and 25% of 10,000 positions for medical officers were vacant.
The ministry is sympathetic about the low salary scale for government doctors and specialists.
I cannot give a particular solution because promotions and pay increments come under a special committee chaired by the Prime Minister, he said.
Dr Chua also said the ministry hoped to table the Traditional and Complementary Medicines Bill in Parliament in 2006.
Under the proposed legislation, he said that practitioners of traditional and alternative medicine would be better regulated.
The practitioners had also asked to be allowed to use the initials 'Dr' and issue medical certificates. This will not be allowed by the ministry, he said, adding that over 3,000 practitioners had voluntarily registered with the ministry.
On MMA's complaints of fee splitting (where doctors pass on part of their fees to the hospitals they serve), Dr Chua asked doctors attached to private hospitals to lodge reports with the ministry if this happened.
It is regarded as unethical, he said.
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