Monday, January 10, 2011

NST: Easing hospital crowds, Clinics to issue referrals under 1Care system

Easing hospital crowds
Clinics to issue referrals under 1Care system

NST, 2011/01/10
By Ling Poh Lean

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will integrate all private and government clinics under the 1Care system for better service.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said it would produce a blueprint of the plan in two years.

He said under the system, patients would go to clinics, which would decide whether to refer them to hospitals.

“The system will make sure everyone receives premium healthcare. Patients can choose whether to go to private or government clinics,” he said after opening the De HomeBiz Gallery outlet at Great Eastern Mall here yesterday.
He said the ministry would carry out the system in six phases.

The first phase involves strengthening the facilities and services in government hospitals and clinics.

The second phase will cover the integration of private and government clinics.
The third phase will see the ministry making sure that all clinics serve as gatekeepers and refer cases to hospitals. This is to reduce the crowds in hospitals.

Liow did not touch on the other phases.

The system is part of the restructuring of the healthcare system under the 10th Malaysia Plan.
“We expect the blueprint to be ready in two years, but I’m not sure how long it will take to complete all phases.

“The prime minister understands that healthcare is a crucial sector and, hence, we need to study this system carefully before we can carry it out. We can’t rush into this.” Liow was commenting on a report in Berita Harian, which said the system was meant to upgrade healthcare services in the country.

It is similar to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.

He said the ministry would get opinions and suggestions from the Malaysian Medical Association on the system.

There are about 4,000 private clinics and 800 government clinics in the country.

Last year, the government spent RM14 billion on healthcare.

Liow urged people in the high-risk group for influenza A (H1N1), such as pregnant women and elderly folk, to get vaccinated.

He said there were 16,061 H1N1 cases in the country as of Jan 8.

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