A patient at the KL General Hospital (HKL) shares his experience:
I am a patient of our Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) and visit two specialist clinics regularly. It used to be four. I was warded in two different wards for biopsies and can attest that our hospitals are terribly overcrowded and rundown. The HKL is an old hospital, and I was born in the maternity section. Guess I will probably die there too.
When I was admitted to the Nephro ward, there was no bed for three patients. They put us in foldable recliner chairs placed between two rows of beds. When one bed became available for me, I offered it to the older of two women. A young girl who came in later was given a stretcher bed and parked against the wall.
After two nights in the recliner chair, a group of senior doctors came around for a visit and asked why I was in the chair. Of course I took the opportunity to complain not only about being left in the chair but also the cleanliness of the ward. The ward sister got an earful.
When I was admitted to the Derma ward, contractors came in to change the air-cond during the Labour Day holiday when the ward sisters were not around. I was asked to move out of my second-class room to squeeze between two beds in the third class room. The whole ward was supposed to be air-cond but they wanted to shut down all air-cond at one go.
I went after the contractor and insisted that they leave the one in my room running, which they did. When the ward sister came back to work, I learned that she was not informed of the works. Since she didn’t know how to scold the contractor, I did it for her.
That, my friend, is how our hospitals are run.
I suspect the neglect of the general hospitals is to allow private hospitals to flourish under Mahathir’s privatisation policy. Not to mention the low government spending on public health care (2 per cent of GDP). It is all part of the neoliberal approach to health care that creates a two-tier system for health care, education etc aggravates the suffering of the lower income group.
It looks as if Singapore is also facing a hospital bed crunch.