KUALA LUMPUR: The government has decided to introduce a shift system at health clinics to ease the burden on health workers, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Noor Azmi Ghazali.
He said the shift system will only be implemented at clinics that are overcrowded, with the aim of creating social distancing among patients.
“Implementation will depend on whether the clinics have enough staff to work two shifts. The problem with overcrowded clinics is that medical staff have to work up to 10pm to clear the backlog of patients.”
Noor Azmi said there are times when two or three doctors have to share one examination room to see different patients.
He said such a scenario has to be avoided to enable social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The shift system will also allow health workers to spend time with their families, he added.
Noor Azmi said the system has been implemented at the Putrajaya health clinic as well as one in Pahang.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has urged the Health Ministry to conduct a detailed study on the shift system at all government clinics before implementing such a move.
MMA president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said the ministry should first address staffing and infrastructure issues without compromising healthcare, as well as engage more with stakeholders.
He said there was an acute shortage of doctors, nurses and other support staff at healthcare facilities in the country, including government clinics.
Ganabaskaran said under the two-shift system, there will be fewer healthcare workers per shift due to the shortage.
One shift will be from 8am to 5pm and the other from 12.30pm to 9.30pm.
Noor Azmi also advised the public to be more vigilant in observing the standard operating procedures to avoid Covid-19 infection.
“Given that more economic sectors will be opened, social distancing will play an important role in preventing the spread of the infection,” he told reporters after attending the Shopee-MMA Covid-19 fund presentation ceremony yesterday.
He lauded both parties for working together to raise nearly RM700,000 to help frontline health workers.
Ganabaskaran said on top of the RM700,000 the MMA raised with Shopee, it has collected another RM100,000 through a donation drive. The target set by MMA is RM1 million.
Of the sum raised, RM100,000 will be used to build a childcare centre at the Putrajaya Hospital to ease the burden of frontline workers with children.
Another RM100,000 will be spent on tents to create more space at government health clinics.
Ganabaskaran said some of the money will also be used to help frontline health workers facing financial problems and funeral expenses.