Extended hours at govt clinics helped reduce overcrowding at public hospitals, says Dr Zaliha

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has taken immediate steps to reduce congestion at emergency departments of government hospitals by extending operating hours at selected public health clinics.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the number of patients at the Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang's emergency department had dropped by 54% since it moved its green zone (non-emergency) department to the Bandar Botanik health clinic in Klang, which extended its operating hours to 9.30pm.

"The pilot project shows the downward trend is more obvious during weekends which tallies with the increase in patients at the health clinics following its implementation on March 25," said Dr Zaliha on Friday (April 14).

She said the Health Ministry had decided to increase the scope of the pilot project with long-term intervention of the operating hours of health clinics.

"Since the project was a success, the ministry is expanding it to five more government clinics in Gombak, Hulu Langat, Ipoh, Johor Baru and Kuala Lumpur.

"Other long-term plans are being mooted to overcome the overcrowding in hospitals by reviewing present guidelines and expanding virtual healthcare services.

The minister said the ministry encourages non-critical patients to seek treatment at health clinics which could help doctors and health personnels to attend to critical patients at the emergency department of government hospitals.

Dr Zaliha announced extended hours at 52 health clinics nationwide on March 11 to reduce overcrowding in hospital emergency departments.

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