The Ministry of Health is studying a hospital transfer regulation to reduce the number of patients seeking primary health care services in major city hospitals, severely overloading them.
Overloading at Phu Yen Province's General Hospital means many patients have to be treated in the corridors. (Photo: VNS)
Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the ministry's Department of Health Examination and Treatment, said that 60 per cent of patients who received health examinations and treatment at the city's major hospitals could be treated at local hospitals.
The hospital transfer regulation that would only allow the transfer of patients with serious illnesses that grassroots level hospitals cannot treat will help reduce the overload at city hospitals, he said.
Under the new regulation, city hospitals would be fined if they receive inpatients with common ailments that can be treated at district-level hospitals, he said.
However, the proposal has been criticised as being impractical.
Patients would still have no choice but to wait in long lines at crowded city hospitals because many district-level hospitals did not have specialised departments like cardiology, oncology and endocrinology, said Ly Ngoc Kinh, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Health Economics Association.
Also, most patients did not trust district-level hospitals where the quality of medical services is very poor due to shortage of modern medical equipment and competent practitioners, Kinh said.
Dr Tran Tuan, director of the Research and Training Centre for Community Development, also said the overload at city hospitals was because of poor health care and treatment given at lower level hospitals.
Many patients were willing to borrow money to pay for better health care and treatment at city hospitals, Tuan said.
The proposed regulation would create more administrative procedures for patients who wanted to get good healthcare services at big cities that they cannot find at local hospitals, he said.
"To ensure that rights and benefits of patients are not affected by the regulation, local hospitals need to get more support in developing their human resources as well as medical equipment and facilities so that the quality of healthcare services they provide is improved," he added.
Newly established satellite departments at district-level hospitals in HCM City have become overloaded after only one month following their opening, according to the city's Department of Health.
Early last month, four large city hospitals, including the Oncology Hospital, Traumatology and Orthopaedics Hospital, Children's Hospital No1 and No2, set up satellite departments at hospitals in districts 2, Binh Tan and Tan Phu in an attempt to reduce overload at city hospitals.
The satellite pediatrics department at District 2 Hospital, which was set up with technical and staff assistance from Children's Hospital No2, is receiving 70-80 patients every day, according to Tran Van Khanh, director of District 2 Hospital.
The hospital has been offering treatment to an average of 15-20 inpatients every day, compared to five to 10 patients a day before its satellite department was established. Previously, most of the patients chose to transfer to city-level hospitals for treatment.
Now, the number of hospital transfers has dropped by 70 per cent.
Last month, 59 doctors from 17 city hospitals were sent to 24 district-level hospitals to transfer skills and technology to their peers in an effort to improve the quality of health exams and treatment services at district-level public hospitals. The aim was to reduce patient overload at city hospitals.
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