DPM wants Commission of Inquiry on hospital fire


JOHOR BAHRU: Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi wants a Commission of Inquiry (COI) so a detailed investigation can be conducted into the fire at the Intensive Care Unit of the Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) here, which left six people dead today.

“The findings of the COI can be used later as a guide for all hospitals in the country especially those that need to undergo renovations or upgrading works,” he told reporters after a visit to the families of the victims as well as the scene of the fire.

Stressing on the importance of building maintenance including wiring, he said it was necessary to upgrade hospital buildings to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

He also said adequate attention must be given to access roads leading to hospitals.

The Deputy Prime Minister praised Johor Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin who acted quickly to help the victims, patients and public at HSA and added, “We in the Federal Government will help in the best way possible. Hopefully at the Cabinet meeting next week, (Health Minister) S Subramaniam will table a full report (on the fire) so that follow-up action can be taken immediately.”

Zahid also thanked rescue teams, including those from the Fire and Rescue Department, the police and staff of HSA who took immediate action to save patients and move them to a safer place.

To ensure that the hospital’s operations returned to normal, he said immediate short-term measures will be taken to provide ICU facilities in a part of the hospital that had the necessary equipment.

He also said long-term measures would include the job of rewiring and the purchasing of new equipment for the ICU as quickly as possible.

“I myself will discuss with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to provide a special allocation for the long-term measures at the hospital’s ICU,” he said.

Zahid stressed that forensic accounting and management accounting would be conducted to determine if there were weaknesses in the hospital’s administration.

He said long-term measures should not be limited to moving old hospitals like the HSA to a new building but also procuring new equipment to prevent a repeat of the incident at the same location.

“It is no use shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. I am sure the Health Minister himself will bring this matter to the Cabinet for immediate action and allocation for short-term and long-term measures,” he said.

Asked if the services of the hospital’s facility providers will be reviewed following the fire, Zahid said they were subject to the agreement with the concession companies and the Health Ministry.

“I am sure the (Health) ministry’s legal advisor and officials from the Attorney-General’s Chambers will advise the ministry and I myself, God willing, if asked, will coordinate the special action,” he said.