Substandard maternity care possible, warns Health D-G


PETALING JAYA: Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said there would be an increase in workload in government hospitals and risk of substandard maternity care if the private sector loses its obstetricians.

“With the obstetrics and gynaecology specialists almost equal in numbers in both sectors, there is definitely going to be increased demand. We will not face a shortage of O&G specialists but rather a mismatch in the distribution and the corresponding workload.”

“It is also important to note that there will be a definite spill-over effect to the neonatal and the anaesthetic services. With this scenario, there will be an increased chance for delayed or substandard care,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said the excessive court awards and punitive damages used to penalise doctors would negatively impact doctor-patient relationships.

For the public sector, all negligence claims costs are borne by the Government.

Last year, 18 cases involving obstetric cases were filed against the Ministry of Health, 10 more from the eight recorded in 2013.

A total of 462,626 babies were delivered in both private and public hospitals as well as by private midwives, alternative birthing centres and estate hospitals.

Out of the number, 63,063 were delivered at private hospitals while the most, or 83.9%, were still delivered in public hospitals and clinics.

Meanwhile a medical law lecturer has called for research on the effects of changes to indemnity protection for obstetricians and gynaecologists.

Dr Sharon Kaur of Universiti Malaya said the authorities should look at court decisions, amounts awarded and gauge if the changes in policy could have a knock-on effect.

“If private healthcare services are cut, the burden will fall on public services,” she said.

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