Johor MB Reveals Ward, OT Closures At Sultan Ismail Hospital From Doctor And Nurse Shortage

Johor MB’s visit to Sultan Ismail Hospital uncovers a severe shortage of doctors and nurses, resulting in the closures of 2 wards and 8 operating theatres, and long wait times. “This means many patients were killed while awaiting their turn for treatment.”

KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 – Sultan Ismail Hospital (HSI) in Johor has been grappling with a severe shortage of medical staff, forcing the closure of two wards and eight operating theatres, revealed Johor’s Menteri Besar (MB) Onn Hafiz Ghazi during his recent visit to the public facility.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Onn Hafiz said that the acute scarcity of doctors and nurses compelled the temporary closure of HSI’s Wards 9A and 10A, which have a capacity of over 100 beds, due to the lack of available staff.

Meanwhile, out of the Ministry of Health (MOH) hospital’s 18 operating theatres, only 10 are currently operational. This situation has led to significantly prolonged waiting times for patients in need of essential medical care.

Onn Hafiz attributed some patient deaths to the problems he highlighted, saying: “This means many patients were killed while awaiting their turn for treatment.”

“I appeal to the federal government to assist in resolving this staff shortage issue promptly. I believe that close cooperation between the state and federal governments will resolve these emerging challenges and further provide excellent health services to the people in Johor and in Malaysia. God willing.”

Onn Hafiz said the state government remains committed to improving the health care services in Johor, particularly at HSI and Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA), both located in the state capital Johor Bahru, and are among the busiest public hospitals in Malaysia.

In a video of the Johor MB’s HSI visit posted by Hartal Doktor Kontrak on Twitter, Onn Hafiz was heard saying: “Bawah tu macam perang dunia; patient berlambak kat bawah (it’s like a world war downstairs; tons of patients downstairs)”, as he compared the empty wards bereft of beds to what was presumably the emergency department.

“They cannot say, ‘this is federal matter; that is state matter’. No. We have to work together for our people,” said the Johor MB in the video.

Ward 9A at Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Bahru, Johor, is closed due to a shortage of doctors and nurses. Photo from Onn Hafiz Ghazi’s Facebook page posted on May 31, 2023.

Earlier this year, The Guardian reported that delays to emergency care could be leading to the deaths of as many as 500 people each week.

Figures from NHS England revealed that a staggering 37,837 patients experienced wait times exceeding 12 hours in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department before receiving a decision on hospital admission in November last year. This represents a 355 per cent increase compared to the previous November, where an estimated 10,646 patients faced similar prolonged wait times.

Meanwhile, a study published in the Emergency Medicine Journal last year, analysing over five million patients in England, found that waiting over five hours in emergency care before admission to hospital is linked to a heightened risk of death from any cause within the next 30 days.

Present during the chief minister’s visit was Johor state’s Health and Unity Committee chairman Ah Soon, MOH deputy secretary-general (finance) Norazman Ayob, and their respective teams.

Also in attendance were Zainal Alhakab Seman, Deputy Secretary-General (Management); Wan Hashim Wan Rahim, Senior Undersecretary (Development); Dr Mohd Azman Yacob, Director (Medical Development); Dr Saravanan a/l S.R. Sundaramurthy, from the Health Performance Unit, Office of the Director-General of Health; Dr Mohd Ridzwan Shahari, Senior Assistant Director (Medical Development) in the Division of Medical Development; Masrina Marsono, Special Officer 1 to the KSU; Dr Haji Mohtar Pungut @ Haji Ahmad, Johor State Health Director; Dr Sal Atan, Deputy State Health Director (Medical), Johor State Health Department; V.J. Pramila, Deputy State Health Director (Management), Johor State Health Department; Dr Siti Khatijah Abdul Rahim, Senior Assistant Director, Maternal and Child Health Unit, Johor State Health Department; Dr Zuraini Zainal, Director of Sultan Ismail Hospital; and Dr Redzuan Ab Hamid, Deputy Director of Hospital (Surgery), Sultanah Aminah Hospital.

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