KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — The Association of Private Hospitals today called on the new minister of health to bring in trained foreign nurses to address the severe nursing shortage in private hospitals, which it said is causing delays in patient admittance.
Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh, group president, said the shortage is unprecedented and that the problem could increase pressure on the already overcrowded public hospitals as more patients are forced to seek treatment at government facilities.
"We hope there are immediate steps taken by the Ministry of Health under the new leadership on human resources in healthcare throughout the country, particularly the acute nursing shortage at private hospitals," Dr Kuljit said.
"We urge the government to facilitate training more nurses and make the processes to be trained in post-speciality basic seamless with better incentives for local nursing schools. In the meantime there should be an immediate effort to have foreign nurses brought into Malaysia regardless if they are post basic specialised training.
"This will immediately assist both private and public healthcare to cope with the current challenges we are all facing," he added.
The group is also urging the new government to "outsource" the screening of diseases, particularly non-communicable diseases, to private hospitals.
"The strength of private hospitals in assisting the government in managing patients who are awaiting treatment beyond a reasonable time through the public private partnership should be strengthened and continued as it was successfully conducted during the peak of the pandemic.
Malaysia has one of the cheapest public healthcare systems in the world. Because of the highly subsidised healthcare, patients often prefer to do screening at public hospitals because the cost of screening at private hospitals can be beyond what most people can afford.
Despite a litany of complaints about expensive charges, private hospitals have never indicated an intention to lower their service fees.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim appointed a fresh face — Dr Zaliha Mustafa — to head the Health Ministry, one of the most important portfolios under the leadership of a so-called "unity government".
Upon her appointment, Dr Zaliha told several news outlets she wants to get straight to work.
The Sekijang MP said her focus would be on improving infrastructure, medical supplies and the longstanding problem around contract doctors.