Address shortage of specialists, medical officers in Sibu Hospital, Dr Annuar tells MOH

Dr Annuar Rapaee calls on both Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa and Health DG Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan, to visit Sibu Hospital to understand the pressing situation.

SIBU (June 30): Datuk Dr Annuar Rapaee has taken the Ministry of Health (MOH) to task over the shortage of specialists and medical officers in Sibu Hospital, which has resulted in long waiting time and causing much inconvenience to patients especially those from rural areas.

In this regard, the Deputy Minister for Education, Innovation and Talent Development, calls on both Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa and Health Director-General (DG) Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan, to visit Sibu Hospital to understand the pressing situation.

“I have already confirmed the authenticity of the notice. They (Sibu Hospital) put up the notice because there is only one specialist left; previously, there were two (specialists). One got transferred back to Peninsula in May (this year) and since then, there has not been any replacement.

“Also, there were about 10 medical officers (MO) but now left with six, as some have either been transferred or doing their postgraduate (to be trained as specialists). And there is also no replacement.

“To me, this is very unbecoming as Sibu Hospital not only serve (the medical needs of) Sibu folk but the entire central region of Sarawak. In other words, this hospital caters for patients almost the size of Pahang. Therefore, in terms of population size – how can one specialist be serving the patients from across the central region of Sarawak?” said Dr Annuar.

He was responding to a notice that has gone viral in the social media, which informed the public that the ophthalmology clinic in Sibu Hospital is currently experiencing shortage of specialists and medical officers, and hence, longer waiting time.

The Nangka assemblyman further asked: “And I want to know from Ministry of Health – how many ophthalmologists are there currently in Pahang and Penang with regard to one specialist to a population?

“Central region of Sarawak is so much bigger than Pahang and like what I have said, Sibu Hospital does not only serve Sibu folk but caters for the healthcare needs of the entire central region.

“It is very ridiculous (as stated in the notice asking patients to be patient with the long waiting time) especially those coming from outstation places like Kapit or even from the interior areas. Bear in mind, many of these patients are from the low income group and may incur additional expenses for food and accommodation if they need to stay overnight.”

In this regard, Dr Annuar felt it is very unreasonable asking rural folk to wait for many hours just to see one specialist.

That said, he repeated his call for the Health Minister and DG to make a trip to Sibu Hospital.

“Therefore, I want both the Health Minister and DG to come down now to see what is the situation in Sibu Hospital.”

Towards this end, he suggested that the rotation system be implemented with regard to specialists and MO to alleviate the situation in Sibu Hospital.

“My suggestion is like this – if they (MOH) do not have enough specialists and medical officers in the country – rotate them – at least, they will be on travelling (to Sibu Hospital) say for three months or at least one month and then, go back (to their respective hometown) if they can’t stay permanently. Or, to outsource the service to private hospital in Sibu,” suggested Dr Annuar.

“I hope the Minister and DG will come down to visit Sibu Hospital – this is very unbecoming. And putting up notice in that manner is indeed shameful and apparently as if informing the public about their incompetency, turning them into a laughing stock.”

He further opined that putting up a notice is not an excuse, and this is totally unacceptable especially when coming from a key service sector in the country.

Meanwhile, the notice was sighted as advising patients to be patient and that this issue is likely to persist until there is an addition of specialists and MO.

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