The Ministry of Health (MOH) should take findings in the CodeBlue survey about dissatisfaction among health care professionals and workers in Malaysia’s health care service positively, and work towards speeding up reforms that are needed in the health care system.
The findings confirm what the Malaysian Medical Assocation (MMA) has been highlighting — that is, many public health care workers are frustrated with the system. Though only 1,652 participated in the survey, it should not be taken lightly.
What is worrying is that not just the junior doctors are unhappy. Even senior doctors and allied health care workers are frustrated with the system.
According to the survey which saw the participation of government doctors, pharmacists, dentists, medical assistants, nurses, and allied health care workers nationwide, 70 per cent (seven in 10) of health care workers are thinking of quitting.
If this many are thinking of quitting, we are concerned as to how long more can they endure the frustration while carrying out their duties. Will the MOH’s planned reforms take place before they have a breakdown and leave for better opportunities?
Already, the frustration is boiling over at the overcrowded emergency departments of public hospitals. The MMA is deeply concerned, as dissatisfaction with the system can have a negative impact on the delivery of care. Therefore, several immediate steps need to be taken.
Data on bed utilisation and distribution of house officers, medical officers, specialists, nurses, assistant medical officers, pharmacists, and allied health care workers should be used immediately to address the anomalies in distribution of manpower.
We understand that many of the needed reforms will of course need time and funding to implement, but as an immediate step, we should go for the lower hanging fruits and address problems that do not require long administrative processes and additional funding, such as improvements to the work environment and the work-life balance of health care workers.
We believe there is enough data to work with to make some immediate improvements. Human resources are the most important asset in any organisation, and we urge the MOH to prioritise the wellbeing of our health care workers as it continues to seek ways to improve the system.
The health minister has been working hard and has shown a strong commitment towards health care reforms. However, some of the improvements needed will need to be fast-tracked.
We hope that as the government prepares for the re-tabling of Budget 2023, a more meaningful budget for health will be allocated, with emphasis given to increasing and enhancing health care human resources.
We believe the Prime Minister. who is a reformist himself, understands the importance of a resilient health care system. We hope that the budget for health will be reflective of the government’s commitment towards much-needed health care reforms.
Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai is the president of the Malaysian Medical Association.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.