Ease hospital crowding with 2 shifts at govt clinics, says doctors’ group

Many emergency and trauma departments at major hospitals are reportedly congested with patients whose complaints are not considered emergency cases.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has suggested the introduction of a two-shift system at government clinics, saying this may help reduce congestion at the emergency sections of major hospitals.

With two sets of doctors and nurses working in shifts, said MMA president Dr N Ganabaskaran, the clinics would improve their efficiency and might attract patients who would otherwise go to the emergency and trauma departments (ETD) of major hospitals.

He was referring to patients who would seek treatment at ETDs even though their complaints were not considered emergency cases.

Such patients are placed in a so-called “green zone” and have to wait longer to get treatment. A recent report said their presence at ETDs was one of the reasons for inefficiencies at major hospitals in the Klang Valley.

Having two shifts at government clinics, Ganabaskaran told FMT, would reduce the burnout suffered by doctors and nurses and result in faster service.

Currently, most clinics operate for about 15 hours, with only one doctor in attendance. There is a shift system in place for 24-hour clinics, but these constitute only 7% of government clinics in the country.

Ganabaskaran said it would not be viable to increase the number of doctors and other medical personnel at ETDs since there would not be enough rooms available for consultation.

He said investing in better technology and equipment could help increase efficiency and speed at ETDs.

“Definitely, our ageing equipment in hospitals needs to be upgraded,” he added.

He also called for improvements in the referral process and suggested an integrated system of record sharing between private general practitioners and government clinics and hospitals.

However, he acknowledged that this would require addressing concerns over the sharing of confidential patient information.

Ganabaskaran also called for improved working conditions for doctors and nurses serving in rural clinics.

“Offer them higher remuneration and better benefits for themselves and their families,” he said.

“Doctors and other healthcare workers serving in these communities make sacrifices for the benefit of the people. We must understand that their opportunities for career advancement and social development are reduced.”

He also said there was a need to ensure fair rotation of staff working in those areas.