Private Hospitals Yet To Hire A Single Foreign Nurse Amid Red Tape

APHM requests an additional one-year extension of the amnesty to recruit foreign nurses from Oct 2024, saying bureaucracy in HR Ministry has prevented private hospitals from hiring a single foreign nurse to date after the amnesty was granted in Oct 2023.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 — Private hospitals are seeking an extension of the amnesty to recruit foreign nurses, as not even one foreign nurse has been hired yet, eight months into the initial exemption period.

Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) president Dr Kuljit Singh blamed bureaucracy in the Human Resources Ministry that has prevented private hospitals from hiring any foreign nurse since the amnesty was granted in October 2023.

“We are appreciative that the Nursing Division of the Ministry of Health (MOH) consented to and subsequently recommended to the then-minister of health that private hospitals be granted an amnesty for the recruitment of foreign nurses. 

“Nevertheless, YB, the amnesty will conclude in October 2024, and we have yet to admit any foreign nurses to our hospitals. APHM would like to urge the YB Minister to extend the amnesty by an additional year,” Dr Kuljit said in his welcoming address at the 30th APHM International Healthcare Conference and Exhibition here last Tuesday.

Dr Kuljit said private hospitals face challenges collaborating with the Human Resources Ministry to prove the local shortage, requiring lengthy joint interviews to demonstrate the absence of local nurses.

He urged the government to address this issue urgently, reducing bureaucracy and managing it through a single agency until the shortage is resolved within the next few years.

Previously, Dr Kuljit told CodeBlue that the recruitment of foreign-trained nurses is taking longer than expected, around four to five months, due to various domestic and international factors.

MOH granted a one-year exemption from the post-basic qualification requirement for foreign-trained nurses, effective from October 1, 2023, to September 30, 2024, with the possibility of extensions upon re-application and approval.

This exemption allows foreign staff nurses to enter beyond the previous restriction, which only permitted foreign specialist nurses with post-basic qualifications to work in Malaysia under strict regulation.

However, the exemption requires foreign staff nurses to sit for the Malaysian Nursing Board Qualification Examination for Foreign Trained Nurses.

The policy also stipulates that foreign-trained nurses cannot comprise more than 40 per cent of the nursing workforce in a private health care facility. The recruitment must also adhere to terms set by the Home Ministry (KDN), including salary scale and contract period.

The Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act (PHFSA) 1998, which only applies to private facilities, prohibits private hospitals from opening beds unless there are sufficient nurses to staff them.

Dr Kuljit said a survey conducted by APHM in November 2022, involving 103 private hospitals, indicated an additional 9,224 nurses are necessary for the 2023-2025 period.

Private hospitals are making concerted efforts to recruit nurses from various Asian countries despite a global deficit, he said.

“I must say that Malaysian nurses are one of the best in the world and the testimony of this is our nurses are in great demand from the Middle East right up to Australia/ New Zealand. We also know some have gone to the United Kingdom. But this has a side effect on us as we have a severe shortage in the country.

“We request that the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister conduct a comprehensive study of the consequences of the nursing deficit in the country and the reluctance of local school leavers to pursue a career in nursing,” Dr Kuljit said.

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