KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 — The number of patient visits to government hospitals and clinics in Malaysia last year rose to about 77 million, 4.5 times higher than the 17 million visits in 2008.
Based on Ministry of Health (MOH) records, 2008 recorded 17,335,961 patient visits (comprising both inpatient and outpatient visits), with 2018 patient visits 445 per cent higher at 77,127,308.
“The number of patient visits has risen from 2,062,925 hospital admissions in 2008 to 3,890,984 in 2018, [higher at 189 per cent].
“Outpatient visits in 2008 numbered at 15,273,036, rising to 73,236,324 in 2018, [higher at 480 per cent],” Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said in a written parliamentary reply to Senator Muhamad Mustafa in Dewan Negara last December 9.
Hanipa also revealed MOH records that found 233 per cent more medical specialists at public health facilities in 2018 at 5,322, compared to 2,281 specialists in 2009.
The number of medical officers was 217 per cent higher in 2018 at 32,565, compared to 15,011 in 2009.
The huge increase of patient visits at MOH facilities coincided with the rise of chronic non-communicable diseases in Malaysia like diabetes and high blood pressure that require regular treatment follow-ups.
Health analysts have said that the 6.6 per cent increase of MOH’s budget for 2020 to RM31 billion did not suffice, as government health spending still hasn’t reached 4 per cent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP).
MOH said separately that the ratio of doctors to the Malaysian population was 1:530 last year, an improvement from 1:1,105 in 2007.
“The statement that one medical specialist at government hospitals resigns every two days to join private hospitals is incorrect,” MOH said in a written parliamentary reply to Senator Alan Ling Sie Kiong last December 10.
“According to MOH records, 198 medical specialists resigned in 2018. Out of that number, only 38 had quit their jobs to work in the private sector.”
MOH said it has implemented several initiatives to retain medical specialists in government hospitals, such as using time-based promotions since 2010 that enables specialist medical officers who have served for nine years to be considered for promotion to Grade UD54 in the civil service.
Grade UD54 medical specialists can be promoted to Grade UD56 if they have served for at least five years in the UD54 position.
Since 2009, medical specialists in the public sector also enjoyed higher incentives of RM1,900 to RM3,100 from a quantum of RM1,400 to RM2,400 previously. They receive on-call allowances of RM230 on working days and RM250 on weekends and public holidays.
Specialists can also earn extra income from full-paying patients at selected MOH hospitals who pay the full cost of treatment.
Medical specialists at Grade UD54 and above who have been serving for at least four years and fulfil certain criteria received one day a week of flexi-working hours since last year.
Specialists who conduct operations on weekends to reduce waiting time for elective surgeries receive an allowance of RM200 per hour.