PETALING JAYA: The health ministry is taking action to resolve overcrowding at hospital emergency departments, says its minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
Zaliha said members of her team visited a busy emergency department at a large hospital last week, where frontline staff were “struggling” because patients who were supposed to be admitted were “stuck in the emergency department”.
Acknowledging the scale of the problem as well as the physical and mental fatigue faced by staff and patients on the ground, she said internal discussions regarding staffing and the opening up of more beds are being held.
The hospital is working on “empowering leadership on the ground”.
“Many issues are inherited and systemic, but some can be tackled at a local level with sufficient engagement,” she said in a statement.
“Many frontliners have worked beyond the call of duty during the pandemic, and continue to do so as we face a tsunami of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) post-pandemic.
“We will continue to listen and work on identifying solutions, both internally and when advocating for our frontliners in ongoing discussions with the finance ministry.”
In December, Zaliha said the health ministry had begun drawing up plans to resolve the issue of overcrowding at emergency departments.
She said the ministry was looking at the latest data, and conducting audits and research related to the workload and overcrowding at emergency and trauma departments nationwide, especially in specialist hospitals, to identify the problems.
She said the overcrowding issue had also been reported in the 2018 Auditor-General’s report, which identified causes contributing to the congestion, including insufficient allocations, a shortage of health personnel, and a lack of facilities to meet patients’ needs.
Zaliha said the issue was not only faced by the emergency and trauma departments, but also the outpatient clinics, the inpatient wards and the health clinics.
She also said the problem was not unique to Malaysia.