Health Care Delivery Must Change, DG Says Amid Protests Against Shift System

By Kanmani Batumalai | 19 June 2020

Existing extended hours at some public health clinics are like a shift system, says Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Malaysia’s public health services must adapt to new norms from Covid-19, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said, following uproar over a proposed shift system at government clinics.

The Health director-general said treatment rooms and waiting areas cannot be crowded, citing the need for new processes at the typically congested public health clinics (Klinik Kesihatan) like staggered appointments, as social distancing rules become commonplace during the pandemic.

“Need engagement to find a solution adapting to new norms during Covid,” Dr Noor Hisham told CodeBlue yesterday.

“Optimise the current resources to cater for the overcrowding even before Covid. Need to change the way we deliver our services,” he added.

He also said he was unable to comment on WhatsApp, when asked if the Ministry of Health (MOH) would halt a trial run of the shift system at clinics, how many new positions would be required in a shift system, how much extra allocation MOH was asking to provide additional jobs, and MOH’s stand on the matter.

“Please look at extended hours, it’s like a shift system too,” Dr Noor Hisham told CodeBlue.

“Idea was mooted and not a new idea as existing extended hours are currently ongoing.”

A civil servants’ union and groups representing doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and MOH drivers have strongly objected to the proposed shift system at Klinik Kesihatan, pending a detailed study and stakeholder engagements, as they called for a meeting with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on the issue.

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs), the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS), the Malaysian Nurses Association (MNA), the Malaysian Nurses Union (MNU), and the Kesatuan Pemandu-Pemandu Kementerian Kesihatan Semenanjung Malaysia (KPPKKSM) told MOH to increase staff and improve infrastructure before implementing the shift system at public clinics, warning the government of staff burnout.

A shift system will extend the operational hours at Klinik Kesihatan to 9:30pm. The two shifts for staff are from 8am to 5pm and 12:30pm to 9:30pm.

Generally, public clinics in Malaysia operate during weekdays from 8am till 5pm. However, selected large public health clinics have already stretched their operating hours. In 2017, the Kuala Lumpur Health Clinic in Jalan Fletcher reportedly extended its operating hours to 9.30pm.

In Selangor, selected public health clinics in Gombak, Hulu Langat, Klang and the Petaling districts are operating until 7.00 pm during weekdays. Some clinics function on Saturday and Sunday too until 2.00 pm. Similarly, in Johor, selected government clinics function until 9.30pm on designated days.

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