Stop Pretending That Patients’ Wellbeing Isn’t Already Compromised — Dr Leonard Goh

Perhaps the health minister and health DG can follow a medical officer for the entire duration of one call to experience the true extent of the issues.

I refer to the Malay Mail article published on February 15, 2023 titled “Don’t compromise patients’ wellbeing if you decide to go on strike, Health DG tells hospital staff”.

Well, it’s high time the health director-general, along with all those in positions of power, wake up and listen to hospital and clinic staff when they say patients’ wellbeing and care are already compromised.

Across the country, we have heard many horror stories that are just coming to light — emergency departments closing their doors; long, snaking queues in clinics with no place to sit for patients; lifts breaking down with an intubated patient inside; patients dying in the emergency department while still waiting for beds in the ward; and many more.

What the patients do not know is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Medical officers at rural facilities are forced to create makeshift MacGyver-style solutions from rudimentary equipment to keep their patients’ blood pressures up.

Certain medications are withheld from patients, simply because there is a strict quota for who receives it. Inpatients are occasionally discharged earlier than indicated to make way for incoming ones.

Patients die en route to receiving the medical care they need, just because “en route” means a half-day drive to the nearest centre with the appropriate service and equipment.

Doesn’t this sound like our patients’ wellbeing is already compromised?

Our health care professionals are all trying their very best to ensure service runs smoothly with limited disruptions. Ironically, the tenacity and ingenuity of our on-the-ground personnel has given those at the upper echelon an excuse to brush aside the dire need to address structural problems.

Instead of asking our doctors to be mature and stand down, perhaps the health minister and health director-general (being medical doctors themselves) can do better by shadowing a medical officer for the entire duration of one call to experience the true extent of the issues.

They can then report back to Parliament and the Cabinet to impress upon the rest of the lawmakers and administrators how truly messed up our health care system is.

If things still remain status quo after that, we will all know for sure who the real culprits responsible for compromising patient safety and wellbeing are.

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

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