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Thursday, January 14, 2010

A step backwards in healthcare system

While the 1Malaysia clinic is welcomed by most sectors of the community, it hangs gloomily and hopelessly for the medical profession, very much like the situation when the Private Healthcare Facilities & Services Act and Regulations were forced upon the medical profession a few years ago.

It is undeniable that the 1Malaysia clinic will most certainly have a negative impact on the competitiveness of private clinics, especially general practitioners, no matter what others might argue.

But this is not the only concern our medical profession is worried about; the greater worry is the slow but steady erosion of the status, role and function of traditional doctors.

The proposed separation of dispensing and prescription rights for doctors, the restriction of our medical practice by the PHFS Act and Regulations, and the definitive “task shifting” of a doctor’s role and functions to other medical, health, pharmaceutical and laboratory personnel mean that doctors would eventually be left with limited functions to perform.

And if pharmacists were to have their way in pressuring the Government to have the prescription rights on top of the dispensing rights from doctors, then doctors would be reduced to nothing more than mere medical clerks!

Doctors, hospital assistants, and nurses are each trained specifically for their respective roles and functions in a healthcare system which we have accepted, adopted, and implemented, governed by the Medical Act and the PHFS Act & Regulations.

Under the system, only medical practitioners registered with the Malaysian Medical Council are allowed to practise as doctors and to set up and run clinics.

Hospital attendants and nurses are paramedics, whose functions are only to serve as auxiliary helpers for the doctors. They cannot act or substitute for doctors.

The PHFS Act & Regulations was recently introduced by the Government to force private practitioners to upgrade their clinics to meet the design, facilities and equipment specified by the Health Ministry and specifically to ensure that each clinic has a qualified and fully registered medical practitioner.

The implementation of the 1Malaysia clinic contradicts the design and purpose of the PHFS Act & Regulations, and is a step backwards in our healthcare delivery system.

While our country is moving towards 2020 to be a developed nation, it brings us to the same level as the barefoot doctors of China when it was still backwards.



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