KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Ministry of Health (MoH) is currently sorting out a financing mechanism to send more Covid-19 patients to private hospitals.
Speaking to Malay Mail, Dr Noor Hisham said he expects an announcement to be made soon by the ministry to offload and reduce the burden in public hospitals, especially seriously ill Covid-19 patients who need to be warded in intensive care units (ICU).
“We are sorting out a financing mechanism to send some of our Covid-19 patients, especially step-down cases from ICU to our private colleagues.
“This is expected to be announced soon by the ministry. We hope with that financing mechanism, more beds will be allocated by the private hospital to offload some of the cases in public hospitals,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.
Dr Noor Hisham said private hospitals have been doing their part to help the government in fighting Covid-19 with 112 private hospitals currently offering their services to treat patients with a total capacity of 1,261 non-ICU beds and 126 ICU beds.
“Current occupancies of these beds are 44 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.
“In the wake of the current situation of Covid-19 in our country, private hospitals certainly have bigger roles to play to facilitate the public hospitals in managing the pandemic,” he said, adding that the role private hospitals are playing is “so far so good".
Dr Noor Hisham added that based on MoH’s discussion with the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) last year, some private hospitals have offered their services at discounted prices and in fact some doctors are willing to waive their professional fees to help the public sector to cope with the pandemic.
He said that the hospitals did all that voluntarily, even when the Emergency Ordinance granted government power to take over private hospitals if needed.
In a related matter, Dr Noor Hisham said since the Emergency was proclaimed, MoH has been outsourcing some of non-Covid cases to the private sector since August 2020, and will continue to do so for the rest of this year.
He said more than 2,000 surgical and medical-based procedures have been outsourced to private hospitals last year.
“With this outsourcing initiative, we hope to reduce the waiting time of some critical surgery or procedures for the non-Covid patients as a result of the postponement of elective surgery and procedures during the pandemic.
“With the outsourcing initiative also, our doctors and nurses can be mobilised to treat Covid-19 cases and our beds, especially ICU beds can be reserved for the critically ill Covid patients,” he said.
Last Tuesday, Dr Noor Hisham said the use of Covid-19 beds in the ICU have increased dramatically in the last two weeks, from 96 per cent on May 25 to 104 per cent on June 6.
The health-director general said the fact that the rate of occupied Covid-19 ICU beds has breached 100 per cent is very much alarming.