Patong Hospital creaking under workload

PATONG (The Nation): Medical workers, including the director at Patong Hospital in Phuket, have quit the Public Health Ministry due to the enormous workload in the area, the hospital’s director, Dr Taveesak Netwongse, said.

As Phuket attracts many tourists, Patong Hospital was forced to expand from a 10-bed hospital to a 60-bed one to treat the increasing number of locals and foreigners.

Taveesak said many people visiting the hospital come with high expectations of medical service. “They do not think that this is a community hospital; they think it’s like a private hospital or a bigger state hospital,” he said.

The hospital has been hit by a lack of adequate [numbers of] medical workers and other limitations, he said, adding that “That’s why the medical workers in the hospital have to shoulder the [excessively heavy] workload.”

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Taveesak said he had tried to find solutions. He had proposed that the government operate the hospital as a public organization like Samut Sakorn’s Banphaeo Hospital. His proposal was supported by former Public Health Minister Dr Mongkol Na Songkla because the hospital is located in a special area.

He said Mongkol’s backing had encouraged him to develop the hospital’s services, but it did not help in improving the facility. He blamed official regulations and political problems for the failure.

The deputy prime minister at that time had asked the Public Health Ministry to conduct a review of the number of hospitals that should operate as public organizations, but so far there had been no progress, he added.

The unsuccessful attempt to push Patong Hospital as a public organization had affected the morale of the medical workers, he said. Two of 10 physicians resigned in August and now there are only three doctors working regular hours in the hospital.

He said the rest of the physicians have to stand by for 24 hours to provide healthcare service to 420 patients per day on average, because Phuket is a tourist attraction and there are a lot of accidents in the area. “Many of them are tempted to seek higher-paying jobs in private hospitals,” he added.

Taveesak resigned from the Public Health Ministry in August this year but his resignation was not accepted by permanent secretary Dr Prat Boonyawongvirot. Prat wanted him to help the ministry and continue his work, but he [Taveesak] said he wanted to work for himself and his family.

Phuket News

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