Health clinics operating beyond office hours to reduce hospital congestion

PUTRAJAYA: Several health clinics around the Klang Valley are now operating beyond the regular office hours to reduce congestion in hospital emergency departments (ED), caused by those with non-urgent medical conditions.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said the operating hours of the clinics involved have been extended until 9pm or 10pm daily and the staff members are required to work according to shifts.

"Not all who come to the ED need to be in the red zone (critical). The purpose of the extended hours is to reduce the burden of staff at the department," he told a press conference after launching the 3rd Health Ministry Dietitians Quality and Research Convention 2022 (DQRC 2022) when commenting on the issue of patient congestion at hospitals.

Dr Noor Azmi said the extended hours would continue as needed and this had been implemented before but was stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also said Malaysia is facing a shortage of dietitians as it was reported that there are only 469 of them serving hospitals, health clinics, Health Ministry headquarters, sports schools and armed forces hospitals.

Admitting that there is an urgent need to increase the number, he said the dietitian staffing ratio should be 1:10 patients per day, but currently, the ratio is 1:33 patients per day.

"It is important to increase the number following the worrying dietary trends of Malaysians, coupled with the emergence of rare diseases," he said, adding that the ministry was applying to the Public Service Department for the intake of more dietetic staff.

He said at present, in the absence of a dietitian at certain facilities, doctors and nurses would assist in providing basic nutritional advice to patients.

"If it is necessary to get (specialist) advice, the patient will be referred to another hospital. In addition, hospital dietitians make regular visits to these health facilities,” said Dr Noor Azmi. - Bernama

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