by Van Dat
HCM CITY — HCM City plans to reduce at least 80 per cent of hospital overload by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2015, city officials have told Minister of Health.
|Children's Hospital 1 in HCM City is frequently overcrowded with patients. The city's plan to build seven more hospitals and increase the number of doctors will help reduce 50 per cent of hospital overload by 2015. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
Huynh Van Biet, deputy director of HCM City's Department of Health, told Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien during her visit to HCM City yesterday that seven hospital projects would help reduce the load.
The hospitals are to be built near the city's four gateways, and would accommodate 5,500 sick beds.
The plan also calls for an increase in the ratio of doctors for every 10,000 people, to 15 doctors by 2015 and 20 doctors by 2020.
Biet said that all of the general and specialised hospitals in the city had exceeded 100 per cent of their capacity.
The hospitals have been overburdened with patients because of the high number of people admitted from other provinces, even though grassroots-level hospitals do not operate at their full capacity.
Higher living standards and more convenient transportation conditions have enabled people to travel to big cities where specialised hospitals are equipped with modern facilities and highly skilled doctors.
The patient overload was the worst at cardiovascular, cancer, paediatrics and functional rehabilitation hospitals in the city, Biet said, adding that this year the city would be spending VND80-100 billion (US$3.8-4.8 million) to upgrade district-level hospitals.
Health officials said that central hospitals in the city were seriously overloaded, with too many patients from districts and provinces, but the matter could not be resolved overnight.
Last year, the number of patients at hospitals in the city increased up to more than 102 per cent.
Fifty to 80 per cent of the patients at the hospitals came from neighbouring provinces.
Tang Chi Thuong, director of HCM City Children's Hospital 1, said the hospital had been seriously overloaded for several years.
The hospital planned to help improve the capability of district-level hospitals and reduce the number of hospital treatments. Two patients often shared a bed, he added.
Health insurance beneficiaries dissatisfied
Slightly more than half of all health insurance beneficiaries were dissatisfied with the health care provided at HCM City hospitals, a survey has found.
Many said that if they had health insurance cards, they had to queue up from 3-4am.
The parents of some patients at Nhi Dong 1 (Children Hospital 1) and Nhi Dong 2 (Children Hospital 2) said services were quicker if they paid for them, and, importantly, they also felt safer.
"Health insurance brings little benefit to patients because the list of medicines and services paid for by it is restricted, especially sophisticated services," Dr Ly Ngoc Kinh, vice chairman of the Viet Nam Health Economics Association, said.
The Viet Nam Social Insurance Agency has said it would only cover treatment at authorised private hospitals and multi-specialty clinics.
Tran Thanh My, head of HCM City Hospital of Traumatic and Orthopaedics, said the number of hospitalised patients had increased five times in recent years.
The restricted number of trauma and orthopaedic doctors and departments at other hospitals had led to even more pressure at his hospital. There are around 1,000 majoring trauma and orthopaedic doctors in the country.
A doctor for Can Gio General Hospital claimed that the lack of human resources was the main reason patients rejected district-level hospitals.
The hospital has only 16 doctors, and low pay is a hurdle to attract good doctors. His income is VND4.5 million ($225) a month, after one year from graduating university.
Hua Ngoc Thuan, deputy head of HCM City People's Committee, said the city had encouraged doctors from the central level to work at district-level hospitals, where they would receive the same salary they were paid at central hospitals.
They would also receive allowances for working in grassroots-level hospitals.
Thuan said that branches of reputable hospitals such as Cho Ray General Hospital and HCM City Hospital of Traumatic and Orthopedics in other provinces could help reduce the number of patients coming to HCM City.
Tien said the overload had become worse as more patients were coming to city hospitals, although the ministry had developed a project to send doctors to grassroots-level hospitals.
She said that developing facilities at central-level hospitals would be the only solution to the problem.
The ministry is collecting opinions so that it can outline a plan to solve the problems.
In HCM City, the health minister said that satellite hospitals of central hospitals should be built in provincial areas to reduce the overloading at central hospitals.
The ratio of hospital beds in Viet Nam, 20.5 per 10,000 people, is low compared to the 33 considered to be the minimum level set by World Health Organisation. It is 86 in the Republic of Korea and 140 in Japan.
The health sector has implemented several measures to minimise hospital overload, including increasing the number of hospital beds and working hours, simplifying administrative procedures, adopting IT solutions and encouraging private-sector investment in the health sector, including the opening of private hospitals. —VNS