KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — To solve the problem of overcrowding in emergency departments the Ministry of Health (MoH) has introduced short-stay wards in hospitals that have excess space, said its minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.

She said the initiative has been implemented in several MOH hospitals and it was proposed that the ward criteria be improved to reduce waiting time especially for patients in the yellow zone.

Patient bed management would be streamlined so that bed occupancy could be regulated and better managed, she added.

“The increasing number of patients and the shortages faced by MoH including in terms of manpower and facilities have worsened the issue of overcrowding in the emergency department. This must be addressed comprehensively.

“Short, medium and long-term solutions must be drawn up immediately together with all stakeholders, for the sake of the people and the national health sector,” she said in a statement today.

In addition, she said MoH would continue to examine the collaboration models with government agencies, state governments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector so that the issue of overcrowding in the emergency department could be dealt with effectively.

She said outsourcing and collaboration with the private sector had helped immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic adding that such collaboration models would be further looked into including collaboration with private general practitioners.

“The digitisation of the health service system also needs to be emphasized. MoH will continue to upgrade the existing information and communication technology (ICT) system to a digital system that has the potential to help overcome existing problems,” she said.

Dr Zaliha said efforts to increase manpower including doctors, nurses, assistant medical officers, pharmacists, allied health professionals, support staff and others would continue to be implemented.

The ministry will also work with the Public Service Department and the Ministry of Finance to resolve this issue in the medium and long term. — Bernama