PATONG: Service at Patong Hospital continues to suffer, with no doctors on its permanent staff and no reinforcements expected until the middle of next year.
Hospital Director Dr Taveesak Netwongse explained that the 60-bed hospital continues to get by with a skeleton crew of doctors on loan from other state-run hospitals including Vachira Phuket Hospital, Thalang Hospital and some in other provinces.
The last of Patong Hospital’s six doctors resigned in September. The walkout began when two doctors gave up their positions, saying they wanted to resume their studies in Bangkok to become specialists, he said.
“During that period, the remaining doctors had to work 12-16 hours per day. That left them no time to work in their private clinics and they faced income problems as a result. So by September all of the doctors had resigned,” he said.
Having doctors work on a loan basis from other facilities is unsustainable and not a long-term solution to the staffing problem, he added.
“I was told Patong Hospital will have to wait until new doctors can be assigned in the future, just like every other state run hospital in Thailand,” he said.
Dr Taveesak, who has worked at the hospital for 15 years, had also tendered his resignation. However his request was turned down by MoPH permanent secretary Dr Prat Boonyawongvirot during a visit to Phuket in early October.
At that time, Dr Prat also accepted for consideration a proposal to upgrade Patong Hospital from 60 beds to 200 beds in order to provide better service to both Thais and foreigners, he said.
“At that time we presented our plan and a 870-million-baht budget request to develop the hospital and construct a new seven-storey building, but the plan is still under consideration and awaiting cabinet approval. I don’t know when it will be approved,” he said.
When asked whether the hospital would have a sufficient number of doctors on staff to treat patients after such an upgrade took place, Dr Taweesak said it is the government’s duty to address staffing issues.
Phuket Provincial Health Office Director Dr Paisan Worrasathit said government hospitals across the country are facing severe doctor shortages and the MoPH is working hard to solve the problem.
“Government hospitals in Ranong, Phang Nga and Krabi all face shortages, but rather than making an outcry through the media they endure and do their best to treat people and improve their health,” he said.
The earliest new doctors can be assigned will be in the middle of next year, at which time the MoPH will conduct its next “doctor’s reshuffle,” he explained.
When asked about rumors that the staff walkout at the hospital was in fact due to internal management problems, Dr Paisarn refused to comment except to say that management practices always have to be examined when staff walkouts occur.
“All I can say is that we are doing our best to develop and improve services at Patong Hospital,” he said.
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