Transfer ‘not a new directive’


PETALING JAYA: The transfer of non-Covid-19 patients from the public to private hospitals to make room for Covid-19 patients has been ongoing since the announcement of the state of Emergency, said Health Ministry secretary-general Datuk Mohd Shafiq Abdullah (pic).

“This is not a new directive. As stated by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Jan 11, with the announcement of the state of Emergency, all private healthcare resources would be roped in to assist in the management of the pandemic,” he said yesterday.

He said the letter sent to the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) on Tuesday was merely a reiteration of what has been decided for the public-private partnership between the government and private hospitals to manage the pandemic.

Mohd Shafiq was responding to some news reports yesterday that suggested the letter to the APHM was a “new directive”.

On Jan 12, the Prime Minister stated that Emergency ordinances can be enacted to cover the use of private hospital assets; temporary takeover of land, buildings, or property of private hospitals; or to request the use of private hospital resources to treat Covid-19 patients.

The July 20 letter ordered all non-Covid-19 patients in public hospitals in the Klang Valley to be transferred immediately to private healthcare facilities to make room for Covid-19 patients.

Mohd Shafiq further stated that as the number of cases has risen, there is a need for more private healthcare resources to come into the partnership to enable government hospitals to focus on Covid-19 patients in categories 3 (with pneumonia), 4 (with pneumonia and need oxygen) and 5 (need ventilator support).

“In a public-private partnership, the Health Ministry has all this while been cooperating well with a number of private hospitals by decanting non-Covid-19 patients to private healthcare facilities to make room for Covid-19 patients in public hospitals.

“This letter is a reiteration of the ongoing partnership. Our actions are clear and pure – as the number of positive cases has risen, our public healthcare resources are weighed down and we need the help of more private hospitals.

“Although we are allowed to take over private healthcare resources under the Emergency laws, we are keen to ensure that the public-private partnership between government and private hospitals are done with mutual understanding,” Mohd Shafiq said, adding that the government needs to work closely with the private sector during a pandemic as the government cannot do it all alone.

On Monday, APHM stated that private hospitals are working out a plan with the Health Ministry to receive more non-Covid-19 patients in private facilities.

APHM president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh said this is because the designated Covid-19 ICU beds in private hospitals are almost full with Category 5 patients.

On July 6, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba stated that 112 private hospitals nationwide have given their cooperation in the treatment of Covid-19 patients by providing 1,277 ward beds and 129 ICU beds.

The MOH letter stated that the government’s payment for each patient transferred to private institutions will be subject to a ceiling, with surgeries capped at RM45,000, RM25,000 for non-surgery cases, and RM5,000 for follow-ups, while bed charges will be based on the lowest available in the ward.

It is also stated that private hospitals are not allowed to transfer these patients to another private hospital without the Health Ministry’s approval.

“Any costs which go beyond the stipulated ceiling costs will be reimbursed upon review by the Health Ministry,” said the letter signed by Mohd Shafiq.

The letter also stated that if the decanted patient needs more than three follow-up visits after being discharged from the hospital, the private hospital must notify the ministry, while radiotherapy charges are not included.

When contacted, Dr Kuljit said the public-private partnership has always been used during crises to ease the burden on public hospitals.

“The letter from Mohd Syafiq is merely a formality and it is a continuing process of the partnership during this pandemic.

“The payment rate is a pre-agreed one, but we also provide further discounts on top of that. Private hospitals do not intend to make money from this partnership, but the payment is to merely cover the costs incurred,” said Dr Kuljit.

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