Lack of funds leaves clinic frustrated

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 01 May 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: For more than a year, doctors and staff have been paying out of their own pockets for cleaning services at their district clinic in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, as the Health Office’s fund to hire cleaners has purportedly run dry.

A medical officer working in the clinic aired his frustration, saying no action was taken when staff complaints were made through the proper channel.

“The Health Office said it did not have any allocation and that this has been the situation for more than a year.

“But when patients complain about the clinic’s cleanliness on Facebook, it gets immediate attention and we will get an allocation for a few months.

“But then things go back to the way they were,” said the MO, who identified himself only as Chun Tean in a posting on his Facebook page on Monday.

Last July, it was reported that judges and court staff here had been cleaning their own toilets for several weeks, as the janitors had gone on strike after not being paid by the contractor.

Then Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum organised a gotong-royong to clean up the court complex.

It was learnt that the government had paid the contractor for cleaning services that were supposed to be provided until the end of this year.

At the Kota Kinabalu clinic, the cleaning problem is not the only issue the staff have had to grapple with.

The MO said they had to fork out money to repair and service their air-conditioning units until an MP noticed the problem and fixed the air-conditioners.

The staff also had to spend money to buy A4-sized paper for photocopying and have been using recycled paper to print referral letters and investigation forms, the doctor added.

“To hospital doctors, don’t be surprised if you receive referral letters printed on old, smelly recycled papers, that’s my clinic,” he said.

The clinic also ran out of dengue combo kits over the past few months and patients had to be referred to the nearest hospital just for the test to be done, he added.

The MO said doctors who worked overtime also could not claim for their extra work.

He said some of his own patients were so poor that they could not afford the RM1 bus fare to his clinic and had to walk for an hour to seek treatment.

“I am not a problematic doctor, just someone who fights for his rights and basic government emp­loyees’ rights,” he said.

He added that the queue management caller system had been down for the past few months, with staff forced to shout the names of patients waiting at the clinic when their turn came for consultation.

“Some patients get frustrated because they can’t hear their names and miss their turn.

“I hope the Health Office is doing their job to get the system fixed,” he said.

In an immediate response, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the Sabah state health department was investigating the matter.

Another doctor, who declined to be named, said many doctors were voicing out similar issues but did not dare to speak out in public for fear that it would affect their career.

“I see it at my hospital too,” he said.

The MO in Kota Kinabalu posted an update yesterday, saying he would be meeting his superior over the problems raised.

“Thank you everyone for your concern. I will be meeting my superior this Thursday afternoon ... not sure what is going to happen.

“I might be using the wrong channel to voice out (these concerns), but at least we are being heard and I am just fighting for my clinic’s right and my patients.

“I am already expecting the worst,” the doctor said.

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