Many critical non-Covid-19 patients have to wait to get a bed in the Intensive Care Units (ICU) of hospitals as they are congested with Covid-19 patients, but efforts are being made to improve hospital bed capacity, Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said.
Noor Hisham said the number of Covid-19 patients in the ICUs, particularly in the Klang Valley, is still not coming down.
At present, he said, there are 1,224 Covid-19 patients, including suspected and probable cases, that are in the ICUs. He added that 567 of these were in the Klang Valley.
"It should be remembered that there are also many critical patients who are still in the Emergency and Trauma Departments of the Klang Valley hospitals and who are yet to be admitted to the ward due to congestion and a lack of beds in the wards and ICUs.
"Likewise, a large number of Category 3 and Category 4 Covid-19 patients who need oxygen support have to be treated at the Covid-19 quarantine and low-risk treatment centre at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (Maeps)," he said in a statement.
To address the problem, Noor Hisham said Kuala Lumpur Hospital will be outsourcing non-Covid-19 patients to private hospitals.
This is to increase Hospital Kuala Lumpur's capacity to treat Category 4 and Category 5 Covid-19 patients.
Noor Hisham said other measures include increasing the capacity to treat similar Covid-19 patients at the UKM Specialist Children's Hospital, Selayang Hospital and Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital, Klang.
Furthermore, he said, Ampang Hospital will be converted into a full Covid-19 hospital, similar to the Sungai Buloh Hospital which has been a key facility in treating Covid-19 patients in the Klang Valley. The conversion took effect on June 30.
In total, Noor Hisham said, there will be 17 government hospitals dedicated to treating Covid-19 patients.
Meanwhile, the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) confirmed that the Health Ministry had requested help due to the worsening situation in public hospitals, particularly in the Klang Valley.
APHM president Dr Kuljit Singh said its members are ready to assist.
"The Health Ministry has requested APHM to seek help from their members to provide nursing, medical officers and specialist to work in the public hospital facilities.
"In response to their request, most of the private hospital groups and some stand-alone hospitals have agreed to supply trained staff nurses (as the first step) in batches to the government to assist in managing Covid-19 patients in selected public hospitals in the Klang Valley.
"We shall at a later stage assist them with other medical personnel," he added.
Prior to this, Kuljit said private hospitals had been assisting in the Covid-19 battle by providing ventilators, conducting Covid-19 testing and treating Covid-19 patients. This was on top of assisting in vaccination efforts.
"These private hospitals are also very short of manpower as the involvement in these activities has stretched their human resources too.
"Regardless of this difficulty, the private hospitals are still willing to support the government in managing this situation.
"Our hope is the decanted patients are equally distributed to all private hospitals in order to give the best care and treatment to the public patients and it will be fully paid for by the government, as per the Emergency Ordinance," Kuljit added.