Open Letter To UMMC — Senior Health Care Staff

Many non-Covid patients had urgent treatment and operations postponed, after UMMC was converted into a Covid-19 centre.

The Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) is often dubbed the nation’s “centre of excellence”. However, as a group of senior members of the health care staff of UMMC, we would like to highlight many issues that plague this hospital.

We are surprised that these issues have escaped previous audits and certifications.


The pedestrian walkway, which doubles as a wheelchair path, from the main building of Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) to the other building or cafe. Picture credit anonymous.

There is a severe lack of access for wheelchair-bound visitors/ patients/ staff. For example, from the cafeteria to the main building, we see patients limping down staircases while relatives carry the wheelchair.

The main road to the entrance has a makeshift walkway for pedestrians that doubles up as a wheelchair path, but is uneven and even has a hole that can be hazardous to wheels. It is right next to incoming traffic, which makes it very dangerous should a car lose control and crash into the barriers.

Wheelchair ramps near the women and children’s complex are too steep and bumpy, making it very difficult for patients to be pushed up and down.

The deputy director of UMMC, Prof Nazirah, is a rehabilitation medicine specialist and it is embarrassing that the hospital should be facing such issues. We urge her to look urgently into this matter before injuries or fatalities occur. Let us not wait for something to happen before taking action.

Staircase from the main building of Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) to the cafe. Picture credit anonymous.

Lack of leadership succession plan

UMMC has been director-less since 11 August 2020. It is surprising that the current acting director is a non-clinician, when we have a clinician as a deputy director.

We are disappointed at the lack of a succession plan as this should have been looked into and sorted out by the previous director, Prof Tunku Kamarul. He has since claimed that he was removed because he was “too qualified” to be the director as his grade was higher than that required.

This is unacceptable, especially during times like this Covid-19 pandemic that needs prompt, wise decision making by a leader. It is with great relief that we have finally elected a new director, who will be taking up the role starting 1st November 2020.

Transparency/ accountability

Over the past few years, there has been a lack of transparency and accountability in the leadership of the hospital. The conversion of the hospital to a Covid-19 centre was opposed by many senior consultants, but unfortunately, the administration went ahead with the decision.

As a result, many other urgent but non-Covid-19 related patients had treatment and operations postponed. We hope that this does not occur again — the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education need to put aside differences and channel resources where necessary.

This would ensure that the pandemic does not cripple the university hospitals, which are heavily involved in the training of future doctors and specialists.

The training of house officers is not standardised between departments — logbooks are not identical to those being used in the Ministry of Health hospitals. Many policies regarding the job scope of house officers/nurses have been put forward for amendment over the past decade, but no real action has been taken.

This has resulted in many unnecessary duties for house officers in UMMC which are not required of those working in the ministry of health.

Poor signage/ lack of waiting areas

Many areas of the hospital lack proper waiting areas for patients. Often we have patients standing in corridors, queueing for appointments, etc. This causes crowding and obstructs the flow of hospital beds.

Patients are often seen along the corridors lost and searching for directions. Signage to clinics and other locations in the hospital are poorly laid out, causing patients to waste time and energy walking round and round searching for the correct place.

This is a lack of foresight and planning and should be rectified promptly.

CodeBlue is publishing this letter anonymously because government officers are not allowed to speak publicly without prior approval from their higher-ups.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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