PANGKOR: The Government will offer incentives to attract doctors and hospital staff to work in islands and remote areas.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the incentives would be in the form of special allowances and offers of scholarships to further their studies.
“We hope such incentives will lure doctors to serve in islands and remote areas,” he told reporters after visiting the Pangkor Island health clinic here yesterday.
“This (filling vacancies at island and remote areas) is among the problems the ministry needs to tackle.
“It is not serious but needs to be addressed all the same,” he said, adding that the ministry is also reviewing guidelines for doctors and hospital staff.
Under the rotation system, he said, doctors and hospital staff might need to serve in rural areas for at least a year.
On the lack of medical personnel and medical facilities in Pangkor Island, Dr Chua said other islands including Tioman were facing the same problem.
In Teluk Intan, Dr Chua said government hospitals with broadband facilities could start using telemedicine now that the Health Ministry had re-launched the service.
Telemedicine is a networking concept that links big hospitals and smaller hospitals in districts as well as health clinics in small towns for consultation, professional development of medical practitioners, public education and record-keeping purposes.
Dr Chua said the ministry would for now limit the use of telemedicine to specific disciplines such as radiology, dermatology, cardiology and orthopaedics.
He said telemedicine was a way for the Government to cut the cost of providing specialist services in district hospitals and rural clinics where only basic healthcare are provided.
“It allows patients to skip the inconvenience and high cost of being physically transferred to big hospitals to get specialist advice,” he said after visiting the hospital here yesterday.
The ministry was ready to implement telemedicine now after ironing out the flaws that led to its failure earlier, he said.
Dr Chua also said RM60mil had been allocated for the project that would be a scaled-down version of the original project.
He said the ministry would ensure that doctors and hospital staff were technology-savvy so that they could make better use of the resources.
“The telemedicine launched earlier was aimed at overcoming the shortage of doctors and improving healthcare services in the country but it failed to meet its objectives.
“The previous plan was too ambitious. As a result, we did not see the facility being used in government hospitals,” he added.