The Ministry of Health (MOH) has issued two circulars, one last year and recently an updated version allowing the government hospitals to outsource services to private hospitals to treat non-Covid 19 patients, in order to create more treatment space for Covid-19 patients in public hospitals.
Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has recently said that elective surgeries and procedures in public hospitals around the Klang Valley would be reduced or postponed to enable more hospital beds to be reserved for treatment of Covid-19 patients.
The Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) would like to acknowledge the effort that has been made by the Ministry of Health in initiating guidelines and budgeting for this programme.
Unfortunately, the take-up rate is not satisfactory, as only a small number of referrals have occurred to help patients in government hospitals who have waited for months and now close to a year to get treated in private hospitals.
The circular enumerates all the referral policies and payment schemes by the government based on strict criteria. We now hope that this referral will be carried out by the treating doctors in the public hospitals to the private hospitals without further delays, as postponements of elective procedures have been extensively stretched, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The public hospitals are now serving Covid-19 patients in large numbers.
There are about 31 private hospitals in Klang Valley alone which are currently managing Covid-19 patients both in normal wards and ICUs. However, there are limitations in expanding the capacity to accept more Covid-19 patients in private hospitals, due to manpower constraints, unlike in public hospitals, where there are house officers, medical officers and more specialists.
Currently, all the private hospitals in the country have the capacity to assist the government in managing non-Covid-19 patients effectively. This will allow public hospitals to exclusively treat Covid-19 to meet the increased number of patients.
Treatment of non-Covid-19 patients in private hospitals will be funded by the government based on the circular, but patients can only be referred by their treating doctors in the public hospitals to private ones, based on the condition of the ailment.
Dr Kuljit Singh is president of the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia.
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