MP: Why Was Tuaran Hospital’s Emergency Department Staffed With Only Junior Doctors?

Tuaran MP Madius Tangau asks how Tuaran Hospital’s ED could be staffed with only junior medical officers with under 2 years’ experience, after MOH sent a specialist there following a misdiagnosis case. New services have opened up, but “there are no staff”.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 – Tuaran MP Madius Tangau has asked the Ministry of Health (MOH) to explain how Tuaran Hospital’s emergency department could be solely staffed by junior medical officers.

The federal lawmaker from Upko, in his debate on the Supply Bill 2024 in the Dewan Rakyat last Monday, thanked Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa and the MOH for sending a specialist doctor to the public hospital’s emergency unit after an incident of misdiagnosis.

“The question is, how could this have happened in the emergency [department], where all the nine doctors there had less than two years’ experience? There were no five years’ [experience] or specialists or the like,” Madius told Parliament.

“I find that this occurred because of weaknesses in human resource planning. When human resource planning is inefficient, that [doctor] fails because they’re new and inexperienced. Why inexperienced? Because when they get experience, they’re promoted and go elsewhere. This happens because of a lack of top positions that need to be created.

“That means more positions need to be created for non-medical staff so that they’re more experienced in management. I understand that staff especially in Sabah and Sarawak are not the same as in the peninsula, and there is really a lack of positions in senior management. That must be improved.”

The former minister from Sabah also found that new services have been opened up, including in Tuaran Hospital. 

“There are clinics, but in the end, there are no staff, no equipment, and the like. Once again, I see this as a management failure in looking at how appropriate and experienced staff could be recruited.”

Madius also questioned why junior doctors with one or two years’ experience were given permanent positions instead of senior medical officers, highlighting that some doctors he knows are still under contract despite having served in the public health service for more than five years.

“I think that problem needs to be resolved, especially in Sabah and Sarawak where we find that doctors from the peninsula who have just entered the service come to Sabah, get a little bit of experience, and then they come here.

“So we will continue to have a shortage of experienced doctors to serve in Sabah.”

Madius also asked about the MOH’s plans to promote the Peka B40 health screening programme, saying that regular health screenings in the government programme should be provided annually or monthly, instead of once-off.

“In my constituency, Tuaran, deaths now exceed more than 100 a month, which is extremely worrying to us.”

Dr Zaliha did not respond to Madius’ questions about Tuaran Hospital in her winding-up speech.

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