Poor medical care due to budget cuts, say MPs

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PETALING JAYA: Three agencies which should never experience budget cuts are the health ministry, education ministry and the police force, according to Subang Jaya assemblywoman Hannah Yeoh.

She was referring to an incident last month where the alleged negligence of ambulance staff and a faulty wheeled stretcher may have contributed to the death of a man involved in an accident.

The Malay Mail reported that Yu Yew Kuan, 62, had suffered a concussion and fractures to his arm and leg after his motorcycle was involved in a collision with another motorcycle in Jelebu, Negri Sembilan, on Aug 6.

Yu was taken to hospital on a stretcher by an ambulance. The stretcher’s wheels buckled and he sustained injuries when he was thrown to the ground.

Speaking to FMT, Yeoh said the health ministry needs to be given adequate funds to perform basic services.

“There’s no need to have an inflated Cabinet with unnecessary portfolios just to maintain backdoor ministers.”

She said Prime Minister Najib Razak should account to Parliament and taxpayers on how funds collected from the Goods and Services Tax were spent to improve the lives of Malaysians.

“When times are bad, the government should cut on organising events, kenduris and unnecessary goodie bags.

“They should focus on improving policies.”

In the past, the government would merely focus on spending, with no culture of maintenance, she alleged.

Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen agreed that cuts in government hospitals had an effect on the quality and standards of the health services, including ambulance services.

“The quality of government services is under strain with budget cuts. There is also an increase in the number of people going to government hospitals due to the poor economy.”

He said another pressing matter was the response time for ambulances during emergencies.

“The best solution is to have independent ambulance services stationed at strategic locations.

“Their job must be to get to the patients quickly and to send them to the nearest hospital.”

Klang MP Charles Santiago said that inefficiency was part of the Malaysian lifestyle.

“This has to do with our personal commitment to the job, including the ‘tidak apa’ (don’t care) attitude,” he told FMT.

He, however, agreed with Wong and Yeoh that budget cuts “especially involving laying off staff or cutting down on pharmaceutical or medical equipment purchases” contributed to improper healthcare.

“The government’s responsibility to ensure good medical care is transferred to the people as a result of budget cuts. This then places more financial burden on people.”

The Budget 2016 tabled by the Prime Minister last October saw the health ministry receiving RM23.031 billion or 8.6% of the total budget, RM269 million less than the previous year’s allocation.