PETALING JAYA: The public healthcare system already employs a sufficient number of nurses to cater to present needs, says health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
However, Zaliha acknowledged there may be imbalances in their distribution to the various public healthcare facilities nationwide.
“We will have to reallocate them accordingly,” she said at the annual healthcare conference of the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) here today.
In May 2022, Johor health and unity committee chairman Ling Tian Soon said the state was suffering an acute shortage and needed an additional allocation of between 15,000 and 18,000 nurses.
In March this year, a DAP senator from Penang said the northern state was similarly understaffed, resulting in patients waiting for a long time for elective surgeries.
Meanwhile, APHM president Dr Kuljit Singh said a survey of 103 private hospitals in November found that these healthcare facilities would need more than 9,000 additional nurses over the next two years.
He said private hospitals were keen to hire nurses from abroad, adding that this proposal has been discussed with the ministry’s nursing division.
“We asked for exceptions to Clause 5 of their guidelines on hiring foreign nurses. We only ask for two to three years to fill the gap before the nearby nursing schools can meet the demand.
“Currently, it is difficult to find employment for foreign nurses due to stringent post-basic training requirements and onerous immigration laws,” Kuljit said in his opening address.
Zaliha said her ministry was holding engagements with APHM to ascertain what can be done to fulfil the industry’s needs.
She also said the much-awaited Health White Paper will be presented to the Cabinet next week.
She said this was the “due process” before the white paper is tabled in the Dewan Rakyat some time next month.
The current Dewan Rakyat meeting ends on June 15.