1Malaysia clinics to go on operating without doctors

(The Star) – 1Malaysia clinics will go on operating without doctors.

Patients with serious illnesses would be referred to hospitals and polyclinics, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said although he understood the concerns of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), the country was facing a shortage of doctors.

“It is our intention to have doctors at all clinics. But in reality, we do not even have enough doctors in hospitals.

“This does not mean the people should be deprived of medical services. Medical assistants and nurses can help out here,” he said.

MMA president Dr David Quek had expressed concern over the 1Malaysia clinics, citing that clinics should be manned by registered medical doctors.

Dr Quek said that clinics run by medical assistants and nurses could lead to poorer standard of healthcare.

Liow said he had met with representatives from MMA on Jan 8 to address their concerns.

“The MMA and the government have the same objective, which is to improve the standards of health services.

“We are short of doctors, even in hospitals and the big clinics. So doctors, and also locums, will be posted there.

“If patients have a serious illness, they should be referred to hospitals and polyclinics. 1Malaysia clinics are only for light illnesses, such as cough and cold,” he said.

Liow said since the 1Malaysia clinics were opened last week, he had been receiving positive feedback with many quarters asking for more clinics to be opened.

“We will stick to the 50 first and evaluate its performance. Now, 44 had started operations, and the remaining six will open by the end of the month. The delay is due to renovation works,” he said.

Liow was speaking to reporters after handing out RM2mil each to the Tung Shin Hospital and the Chinese Maternity Hospital Tuesday.

He said the two hospitals, which are non-profit oriented, had an excellent record of service and hoped the contribution would help them to continue serving the people.

On a request by the hospitals to have their assessment tax waived, Liow said he would make an appeal with Federal Territories Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Zainal Abidin.

“We give them subsidies, so it doesn’t make sense to tax them,” he said.

Tung Shin Hospital vice-president Tan Sri Tee Hock Seng, who is also MCA treasurer-general, welcomed the government contribution and said the monies would be used to upgrade medical services to the poor and needy.