KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — Dzulkefly Ahmad today pledged to consider restructuring more funds for emergency services, after a national audit found hours-long wait for treatment in critical emergency cases.
Noting that the Ministry of Health (MOH) is “underfunded, understaffed, overworked and overstretched”, the health minister said he would use the next year’s budget allocations to restructure allocations within the ministry, particularly to the emergency and trauma departments (ETD), in a better fashion.
“I’m quite sure we will see to it,” Dzulkefly said to reporters during a press conference at the launching of the Boost e-Wallet programme at the government health clinic in Cheras here, adding that the allocations were almost finalised.
The National Audit Report 2018 Series 1 audit report, cited, among others, workload constraints faced by government hospitals, coupled with a lack of medical equipment, limited space, and poor ICT systems as factors for patient congestion in the ETDs.
According to the Auditor-General, only 58.7 per cent to 74.5 per cent of patients in critical emergency cases were treated in less than four to six hours, amid an increase in patient arrivals of up to 95.6 per cent at the ETD in government hospitals, especially for non-emergency cases.
Besides this, ETDs also reportedly experienced a deficit of 11.6 per cent to 53.1 per cent in terms of workforce required based on the Workload Indicators of Staffing Need 2010, according to a Bernama report.
The audit report further cited the lack of emergency care experts by between 75.6 per cent to 79.5 per cent, medical personnel (41.2 per cent to 64.6 per cent), assistant medical officers (2.6 per cent to 33.9 per cent) and trained nurses (17.4 per cent to 67.1 per cent).
Dzulkefly said he was optimistic that things could be changed for the better, now that the MOH has received an increase of 6.7 per cent from the federal government for Budget 2020. MOH gets RM30.6 billion for next year. The figure was RM28.68 billion last year.
He also revealed that the ministry has submitted a request to the Public Service Department for more staff for the ETD, adding that the ministry will be pursuing the matter closely as well.
“We will make sure we get this.”
The national audit report had recommended that MOH be provided with additional positions to address the shortage of health personnel, including emergency experts.
Dzulkefly said the ministry is plagued by a shortage in manpower, especially in the ETD.
“So we must address the nurses-patient ratio, population ratio and so on.
“All this is on our radar and we are towards the end of this… (budget allocations) in all our health facilities.”
He also said that the restructured budget allocations would also aid medics officers, nurses and members of the “elite health care” team.