Growing ageing population and increase in NCD cases reason for bed shortage

KLANG: A growing ageing population as well as an increase in the number of non-communicable cases have resulted in a serious shortage of beds in almost all public hospitals.

Klang Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah (HTAR) director Dr Zulkarnain Mohd Rawi said this was a serious ongoing problem plaguing public hospitals and the government must do something immediately to improve the situation.

With the ageing community also rapidly increasing, admission is also common for elderly patients with many geriatric-related illnesses coupled with the usual non-communicable diseases.

“Cases of chronic diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease are on the increase. These patients need specialist intervention and hence have to be admitted, as there is no way they can manage their condition on their own or by merely going to government clinics,’’ said Dr Zulkarnain.

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He added the number of beds in hospitals cannot meet the need for new admissions, and hospitals have to find ways to accommodate those who are sick and in need of urgent care.

“Like in HTAR, we have a system where our doctors go on discharge rounds of all the wards in the morning to seek out patients who can be sent home.

“Once these patients are identified, they are discharged and sent to the discharge lounge, where they can relax until someone picks them up or can call a taxi or Grab to go home,’’ he added.

As soon as a patient is discharged, according Dr Zulkarnain, hospital staff members are given an hour to process the discharge documents and prepare for the next admission.

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According to Dr Zulkarnain, the number of beds gazetted for HTAR is 1,261; but to function more effectively, the hospital needs more than 500 additional beds.

“So, the best solution would be for the government to build additional buildings and open up new wards.

“This is not a problem for HTAR, as we still have a lot of land that belongs to the hospital,” said Dr Zulkarnain.

Selangor resident Brenda Chia said the lack of beds is a very urgent issue, as sometimes procedures have to be postponed and patients discharged too early because of it.

“My mother’s surgery had to be postponed because there were insufficient beds at the public hospital where she goes for treatment,’’ said Chia.

She said her mother, who is in her mid-80s, had to come home and have the surgery at a later date.

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