JOHOR BARU: The Health Ministry has given its word that it will help address the shortage of medical staff in Johor, says state executive councillor Ling Tian Soon.
Ling, who holds the health and unity portfolio, said the ministry’s top management visited the state’s two main public hospitals – Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA) and Hospital Sultan Ismail (HSI) – on Wednesday to get a clearer picture.
“After we highlighted the issues faced by public healthcare facilities, top officials from the ministry visited the hospitals and the outcome of the discussions was positive.
“They told me that the ministry would try to help Johor iron out the issues, especially at the two main hospitals, by adding more doctors and nurses,” he said when met at the state-level International Nurses’ Day celebration at Persada Johor International Convention Centre here yesterday.
The Yong Peng assemblyman said these two hospitals were quite congested, adding that the specialist clinics at HSA and HSI tended to have about 1,800 and 1,900 patients daily.
The emergency and trauma department at each hospital had about 400 to 600 patients each day, he also said.
As an immediate measure, Ling said the Mahmoodiah Health Clinic, located beside HSA, would be extending its operating hours until 9.30pm starting this Sunday.
“This is to reduce the waiting time for patients with non-emergency cases such as flu, fever, cough and stomach ache, and take some pressure off the hospital’s emergency and trauma department,” he said.
Earlier, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi said the state was currently facing a shortage of about 2,800 medical staff, which led to overcrowding in public healthcare facilities, especially HSA and HSI.
“HSA alone is short of about 200 doctors and it is the second busiest facility in the country after Hospital Kuala Lumpur.
“The hospital does not only cater to those living in Johor but also patients from Melaka, Pahang and Negri Sembilan.
“When I visited HSI on Wednesday, I noticed that the paediatrics ward and emergency and trauma department were packed with patients who had to wait up to six hours to be treated.
“At the same time, there are two empty wards in the hospital without beds and staff.
“The wards can fit 108 beds, so I appeal to Putrajaya and the ministry to look into this for the benefit of patients,” he said.
Onn Hafiz also expressed the state government’s appreciation for healthcare workers and announced an allocation of RM200,000 for the benefit of more than 8,000 nurses in Johor.
Ling, meanwhile, suggested that a reward or payment scheme be introduced to retain medical staff in the country as many doctors and nurses in Johor had crossed over to Singapore for better opportunities.
“Not only are public hospitals feeling the pinch, but private hospitals are also facing a similar shortage of medical staff,” he said.