KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry should address staff shortage and infrastructure issues before implementing a new shift system for extended hours at government health clinics, says a survey carried out by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
In the survey, 92% of 9,320 Health Ministry employees in various categories disagreed with the new shift system that was being implemented in phases at all government clinics beginning June 15.
MMA president Dr N. Ganabaskaran (pic) said the ministry's employees were notified of the shift system recently.
He said from the survey, 84% said this would increase their workload and 89% said it would increase work-related stress, eventually leading to burnout.
Dr Ganabasakaran also said 63% of respondents had voted against the move in an online poll conducted by Public Health Malaysia.
"There is an acute shortage of doctors, nurses and other support staff at public healthcare facilities in the country.
“The Health Ministry must first address staffing and infrastructure issues without compromising healthcare workers’ welfare.
“More stakeholder engagement will also be necessary, ” he said in a statement Tuesday (June 16).
On Monday (June 15), Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry would study the implementation of a two-shift system to ease congestion at public health clinics.
However, there was currently a lack of human resources, he said.
Besides diagnostic and therapeutic services, healthcare workers in these clinics are also involved in Covid-19 screening and contact tracing, Dr Ganabaskaran said.
"They are also involved in domiciliary care and community outreach programmes.
"By implementing the shift system, it will be impossible for them to continue providing the current care," he said.
MMA urged the ministry to conduct a more detailed study on the new shift system before implementing the move, he said.
The Health Ministry's health clinics nationwide open from 8am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays.
To address the problem of overcrowding, the clinics opening hours will be extended to 9.30pm.
The two shifts for staff members are from 8am to 5.00pm and 12.30pm to 9.30pm.
The health clinics serve as one-stop-centres for outpatient care, treatment of chronic diseases, maternity and child healthcare, rehabilitation, dietician consultation, physiotherapy and occupational therapy services, emergency cases, health screening including for tuberculosis, community psychiatric services, drug-replacement therapy, and even quit smoking programmes.
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