Letter to Editor
I WAS recently admitted to a private hospital near where I live for a minor chest infection. It is one of those conditions that come with being 76. Thank God, the able doctor was able to sort out the problem quickly.
During my three nights in the hospital, I noticed that the ward the hospital put me in was rather understaffed. There were only about three or four nurses overseeing probably a dozen or so patients on my floor. They looked rather tired having to juggle the different needs of the patients, including accompanying doctors on their rounds, on top of performing administrative duties.
I spoke to one of the nurses, who, honestly, looked rather haggard at the end of her shift. She said that one of her fellow nurses had fallen ill on that day while another had gone on an earlier-than-expected maternity leave. This was why she and her colleagues were stretched. To be fair, I feel all of them have done a good job, given their limitations.
But I was even more surprised to find out that the shortage of nurses in private hospitals was not confined to the ward or the hospital where I was. Apparently, it’s quite widespread in private hospitals throughout the country.
Part of the reason is that the young are now not so keen to pursue nursing as a career due to its long hours and low pay. Many would rather pick up courses like graphics design, marketing or human resources after their SPM.
Another reason is that many trained nurses now opt to work overseas in places like Dubai where they could fetch much higher pay. As a result, the country faces a shortage of nurses. However a few days ago, I was pleasantly surprised to read in the news that Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa had announced that private hospitals are allowed to hire foreign nurses starting next month, subject to certain conditions.
I want to laud the minister, a trained doctor, for being conscientious in this as it can help alleviate the workload of nurses in the country. Nurses make up the critical backbone of our health and wellness sector.
Well done, Health Ministry! As a retiree who’s just been discharged from a private hospital, I can vouch that this move will certainly provide much relief to not just patients but healthcare practitioners. – Sept 21, 2023
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main photo credit: Malay Mail