Medical Assistant Shortage Forcing Zone Closures In Kepala Batas Hospital’s Emergency Room

Kepala Batas MP Siti Mastura Muhammad reveals that a severe shortage of medical assistants (PPPs) has led to the closure of the screening zone in Kepala Batas Hospital’s ED; there are no PPPs in the asthma bay/ Covid zone, and only one PPP in the Red Zone.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — Allied health care workers in Kepala Batas Hospital are burned out due to staff shortages forcing them to work double shifts up to four times a week, said Kepala Batas MP Siti Mastura Muhammad. 

The PAS lawmaker from Perikatan Nasional (PN) revealed in Parliament today that although development action plans recommend 60 assistant medical officers (PPP) in the health department for a minor specialist hospital, Kepala Batas Hospital – which serves the entire northern Seberang Perai region in Penang, including the Tasek Gelugor federal constituency – is currently only staffed with 20 workers. 

“Burnout does not only happen amongst doctors, but even happens amongst support staff, such as medical assistants and ambulance drivers,” Siti Mastura, a 33-year-old freshman MP, said during her debate on Budget 2023 in the Dewan Rakyat today. 

She said shortages of PPPs, or medical assistants, have forced Kepala Batas Hospital, a Ministry of Health (MOH) facility, to close its screening zone in the emergency department. 

The asthma bay and Covid zone in Kepala Batas Hospital’s emergency room are not staffed with any PPP, while the emergency department’s Red Zone only has one PPP to manage critical cases. 

“The screening area should have one PPP in the primary or secondary section. There should be only one person in the screening section. Patients have to wait a long time in the treatment room to get wounds stitched, bandages [wrapped], but only one PPP is on duty in that area,” said the Opposition MP.

“All this causes the shift schedule for the morning, afternoon, and evening with the strength of 20 people being forced to cover or to take care of eight areas that need to be cared for. 

“Hence, for years, PPPs have been forced to take on dual duties – tasks such as working double shifts at a rate of three times to four times a week to accommodate the staff shortages.” 

Siti Mastura urged the MOH to re-examine an application letter from Kepala Batas Hospital for additional staff, due to the “extremely critical” situation in the public hospital.

“Also, I ask The Honourable Tambun to expedite the approval of additional staff for Kepala Batas Hospital to ensure that the people experience the Madani concept that has been promulgated,” she said, referring to Prime Minister and Tambun MP Anwar Ibrahim.

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