Hospital emergency depts need sustainable system to ease congestion, ministry told

PETALING JAYA: Hospital directors must set up a sustainable and effective system to address congestion at emergency departments, says former Health deputy director-general Datuk Dr Christopher Lee.

He said in a tweet on Monday (Jan 23) that such congestion is a recurring issue.

“Remedial actions not new. Some previously worked. Sustainability or lack of (is) often the Achilles heel,” he tweeted.

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Dr Lee was responding to Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa’s statement on Sunday (Jan 22) about remedial measures to ease congestion at hospital emergency departments.

Dr Zaliha had said that at the end of last year, patient arrivals were expected to return to the same levels as before the Covid-19 pandemic, at about eight million per year nationwide.

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“Undeniably, with an increasing number of patients every day and various shortages including manpower and facilities, it has exacerbated … congestion,” she said.

She added that as one of the measures, a “short stay ward” will be introduced in hospitals with sufficient space.

“This has already been implemented in several hospitals. However, I suggest that the ward criteria be improved to avoid patients having to wait longer, especially at the yellow zone,” she said.

ALSO READ: Health Ministry drawing up plans to tackle Emergency Dept overcrowding

She said the patient bed management system would continue to be streamlined, with outsourcing and collaboration with the private sector to be considered.

She said the ministry will also continue to upgrade existing ICT systems as another measure.

“(Getting) more manpower including doctors, nurses, assistant medical officers, pharmacy officers, allied science professions, support staff and others will continue.

“The Health Ministry will work together with the Public Service Department and the Finance Ministry to find the best meeting point to solve this issue in the medium and long term,” she said.