WE WOULD like to respond to the letter written by ‘Concerned Citizen’ titled “Patient management needs improvement” published in the Borneo Bulletin dated September 24, 2014. We thank the writer for the comments and take this opportunity to clarify the matters raised.
The Ministry of Health strongly recognises the importance of human resource, particularly healthcare professionals, as a critical pillar to any healthcare system. In early 2014, there were 283 local doctors in the Ministry of Health, however, as of November 2014, the number has increased to 311 local doctors. Currently, there are a total of 726 doctors, which includes doctors from the Medical, Health and Dental Services, working in all Government Hospitals, Health Centres and Clinics.
Despite the increase in the number of doctors, Brunei Darussalam has not yet reached the internationally-recommended doctor-to-patient ratio. In order to address this situation, the Ministry of Health has taken several initiatives to increase the number of doctors through short-, medium- and long-term measures. These include appointing foreign doctors via Locum Tenens, which recruits doctors with various specialties that have been identified as necessary. Furthermore, the Ministry of Health also organises career carnivals to encourage more local youth to take up medicine or other health-related careers and also work closely with other relevant agencies, in particular the Ministry of Education.
As highlighted by the writer, it does take a long time to study and qualify as a medical doctor, and a longer time if the doctor wishes to pursue specialisation. Despite this, the Ministry of Health continues to strongly encourage and is supportive of our local doctors to pursue further training in order to become specialists in different areas of medicine and health. Thus in ensuring that there is sufficient number of doctors to provide the much-needed healthcare services, the ministry continues to recruit doctors from other countries including through the Locum Tenens appointment as mentioned above, whilst awaiting the return of our local doctors from both undergraduate and post-graduate training.
In strengthening the management of hospitals and health centres, the Ministry of Health adopts best practices by other countries in getting more hospital/health centre administrator positions to facilitate the smooth daily running and operations of health facilities. This will allow our doctors to focus more on patient management. However, it is unavoidable for doctors to be involved in some administrative duties such as planning of services, implementing quality assurance initiavies and attending management and clinical meetings. These are essential in ensuring the smooth running and quality of services and in providing the best patient care. Nonetheless, clinical duties for doctors take priority above and beyond any administrative duties. We continue to ensure that each health centre or clinic has the optimum number of doctors at any given time.
With regards to Bru-HIMS mentioned by Concerned Citizen, we would like to point out that current evidence shows the benefits of Bru-HIMS go far beyond just in terms of reducing waiting time for patients. In fact Bru-HIMS has improved the efficiency and quality of health services by providing better accessibility of crucial patient data and information that contributes positively towards patient management and safety. Longer consultation time is sometimes necessary in order for the doctor to obtain vital patient information such as past medical history and latest symptoms, which is important for correct diagnosis and optimal treatment. Bru-HIMS has shown clear benefits whereby the retrieval of information is faster than before, compared to the manual system, thus enabling more timely treatment. Furthermore, through the “One Patient, One Record” approach of Bru-HIMS, duplication of records is eliminated and human errors minimised, thus safeguarding the patients’ wellbeing.
In further enhanching patient management, the Ministry of Health has introduced an appointment system for Outpatient Services which is being implemented in phases at Health Centres. This appointment system will be rolled out in all Health Centres throughout the country in the near future.
The Ministry of Health would like to reiterate that it is committed to providing the best possible healthcare to the people of Brunei Darussalam. However, the government, doctors and nurses can only do so much. Hospitals, Health Centres and Clinics are accessible and available for the public to seek treatment and care when needed, but the emphasis on who should be responsible for one’s own health MUST start to shift from totally relying on healthcare providers only. We must turn the mirror on ourselves as individuals to share the responsibility and take ownership of our own health.
Our community must change it’s mindset and look after themselves better by adopting a healthy lifestyle throughout the course of our lives.
We would like to take the opportunity to inform the public that information on health statistics can be accessed through our Ministry of Health website at www.moh.gov.bn. For any further clarifications, contact our Public Relations Office, Ministry of Health at 2380989.
– Public Relations Office,
Ministry Of Health