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Hospital overcrowding to be tackled

Update: March, 27/2012 - 09:24

HA NOI — Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said that overcrowding in hospitals nationwide would be reduced dramatically by 2015 at yesterday's session of the National Assembly Standing Committee.

Responding to a question from NA Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung regarding the timetable to address pressing issues in healthcare, Tien stressed that hospital overload reduction would be a top priority in her five-year term at the health ministry.

"Hospital overload cannot be handled overnight, but remarkable steps forward will be taken by 2015," stressed Tien.

By 2013, the country should feel the effects of several projects on hospital overload reduction and efforts to reform healthcare that have been submitted to the Government for approval, according to the minister.

Since 2007, the Government has been working to reform health education, which should soon solve the shortage of human resources in the sector.

Overcrowding in Ha Noi's Central Cancer Hospital should be lessened in 2012 by moving between 300-500 beds to institutions in the outskirts of the capital. The oncology and cardiology departments of Bach Mai Hospital will be expanded in 2013.

In the future, central hospitals like Bach Mai, Viet Duc, Hue and Cho Ray have to establish satellite medical systems. Satellite hospitals could accommodate patients adequately if they were taught proper techniques and equipped with appropriate medical facilities.

According to Tien, these measures were among the seven key tasks set by the health sector for the next five years. Another project will soon be submitted to the Government to strengthen human resources and facilities at the grassroots level, to meet demands for primary health care and preventive medicine.

Health education and local medical departments will be established at the health ministry with an aim to improve education and communication at a local level.

State HR reforms

Minister of Home Affairs Nguyen Thai Binh said yesterday the ministry had been working to make the recruitment, promotion, remuneration and salary policies of public officials, civil servants and State employees, especially at the communal level, more transparent and performance-based – but it would take time before all the reforms could be translated into action.

Binh was questioned at the NA Standing Committee over persistent problems of corruption and nepotism in the recruitment process, stagnant salary policies, and streamlining of the burgeoning administrative system.

Le Nhu Tien, deputy chairman of the NA Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children questioned over the public angst toward officials hiring people to sit on exams for them or buying fake diplomas and certificates.

"The system has made it more important to have the right diploma than the ability to do the work," Tien said. "This has led to the point where many who have been hired can't even meet the basic requirements."

Binh said that since 2003, the hiring policies of public officials, civil servants and State employees have been revised to make the exams more performance-based, putting heavier emphasis on required specialised knowledge. However, he admitted it could be further improved.

"In the future, we will work with the Ministry of Education and Training to eliminate the situation of using fake diplomas or people awarded degrees without studying," he added.

In regards to a question from NA deputy Bui Thi An from Ha Noi of the people who paid many millions of dong for their position, Binh replied that it was difficult to verify.

However, he said the ministry was working on a comprehensive project that would redefine the salary scale, job descriptions and responsibilities for general grades or specialist scales, increase the competitiveness of the recruitment process, and establish guidelines of attracting talents to work in public administration, among other ambitious goals.

Many questions were also directed at the salary and remuneration policies for part-time and full-time civil servants at the local level. Under Government Decree 92 issued in 2009, part-time officials of communes, wards, townships, villages and street quarters are only entitled to receive monthly allowances, without a basic salary or mandatory social protection.

According to the ministry's statistics, there are an estimated 233,000 civil servants and public officials at the commune level nationwide, and 700,000 others doing the job part-time. With limited personnel at the local level, many of the part-timers also end up carrying a significant workload without receiving comparable benefits, the NA deputies said at the session.

As someone who has worked for 40 years at the local level, Binh said he could identify with the pressure and work that must be done in this gateway job connecting residents to government's policies.

The ministry has suggested some amendments to Government Decree 92 so that the salary and recruitment policies at the local level are adjusted according to the needs of each region, according to Binh, particularly in "extremely difficult" areas.

In regards to general reforms in salary policies nationwide, Binh said progress would be made in the salary reform plan of the public sector from 2012-20.

"The direction we're heading is to reform the minimum wage policies for each region and then reform the salary policies for each grade accordingly," he said. — VNS

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