KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 – Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Botanik in Klang will be extending its opening hours until 9.30pm every day, including weekends and public holidays, as part of a pilot project to ease congestion in hospital emergency departments.
While the move is expected to provide better access to health care for residents in the area, the extended hours also mean additional work for staff of the public health clinic, who will have to manage longer hours and a higher patient volume.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) is leading the pilot project that involves Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (HTAR) and Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Botanik in Klang, Selangor. The project, which began last Saturday, was approved by the Special Task Force to Reform the Public Sector (STAR), chaired by Chief Secretary to the Government (KSN) Mohd Zuki Ali.
To accommodate green zone patients with mild symptoms and non-emergency cases, Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Botanik will operate seven days a week, with extended hours until 9.30pm on both Saturdays and Sundays and public holidays. Patient registration is closed at 9pm.
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa has urged patients with mild symptoms or non-emergency cases to seek care at Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Botanik, rather than crowding emergency and trauma departments (ETD), especially at HTAR.
“The change in the pattern of patient arrival from HTAR’s ETD to Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Botanik will be monitored during the implementation of the pilot project and allow MOH to determine the next strategy.
“If it is successful, we may expand the audit we conduct, and there may be several clinics or hospitals where we can implement such projects,” Dr Zaliha said at the Health Ministry’s monthly assembly in Putrajaya today.
A three-minute video showcasing the pilot project demonstrated that services offered by Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Botanik throughout all operation hours include medical examinations conducted by health care professionals, treatment for minor ailments, services by family medicine specialists, laboratory tests, and X-ray imaging.
These services require not just medical doctors, but other health care professionals and allied health care workers.
There is still no clear information on how the MOH will finance the extended operating hours for Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Botanik.
Previously, CodeBlue reported an MOH directive issued to limit the allowance paid to medical officers for working extended hours at public health clinics, despite the ministry’s appeal for doctors to take on additional work to help ease overcrowding at the emergency rooms of government hospitals.
The circular stated that incentive payment for medical officers on duty can only be paid for up to four hours, even though the extended hours at klinik kesihatan consist of operating from 5pm to 9.30pm on regular working days or weekdays, and 8am to 12pm on Saturdays.
At present, 52 klinik kesihatan nationwide are providing such extended-hour services. The extended-hour service in the pilot project involving Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Botanik is much longer – beyond noon on Saturdays until 9.30pm, as well as opening on Sundays and public holidays until 9.30pm.
Dr Zaliha previously said the matter of payment for klinik kesihatan staff during extended hours is being “discussed and refined” with the Public Service Department (JPA).
Last month, CodeBlue also reported that JPA had instructed MOH to discontinue extended operating hours at public health clinics on Sundays and public holidays, since staff could not be paid for such services.