PETALING JAYA: Half a million ringgit worth of haemodialysis machines are sitting idle in a health treatment centre run by the St John Ambulance of Malaysia in Maju Jaya, Pandan, for a year as the Health Ministry had not licensed the centre
And this is just the tip of the iceberg, says Pandan MP Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, who revealed the state of affairs to The Malay Mail.
The organisation has two similarly idle centres in Serdang, Serdang, and Bidor in Perak.
To cap it all, it has 17 other dialysis centres in Selangor, Perak, Pahang and Sarawak catering to more than 450 patients since the first facility was opened in Selangor in 1993--all operating without the ministry's licence.
Ong said the Maju Jaya centre's 11 haemodialysis machines, each worth RM45,000, had not been used since its launch on June 18 last year. He said 'hundreds' of patients had to be turned away as the Maju Jaya centre had no licence to operate.
"The machines are there, the patients are there, but we have no licence," he said.
St John Ambulance Malaysia Selangor legal officer Goh Hoon Huar said the Health Ministry could prosecute St John Ambulance Malaysia for failing to obtain a licence in accordance to the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 2006.
"Without a licence issued pursuant to the Act, the ministry can, if it so wishes, prosecute us if we continue to operate the 14 centres," Goh said.
In a letter dated April 24 to St John Ambulance Malaysia--Pantai Selangor Area chief executive officer Datuk Yeo Kim Thong, Health Director--General Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman had said the premises were not eligible for licences as they failed to comply with regulations prescribed by the Act, including:
*The registered medical officer in charge of the centres had not fulfilled 200 hours of training in haemodialysis treatment;
*Insufficient nurses or medical assistants with training in post basic training in renal treatment; and
*The floor plans of centres did not abide by the specifications under the Act.
Yeo said the medical professionals in the centres were mostly volunteers occupied with their work at their own clinics.
"It is difficult for them to complete the 200 hours of training within six months," he said.
He said they were also hampered by a shortage of nephrologists, adding the requirement for these specialists to work as person--in--charge of the centres was also new.
Yeo said the cost to train nurses and medical professionals was exorbitant.
"Post--renal basic training costs RM8,000 per nurse. There are two intakes per year, with six months allocated for each."
Yeo said it would be difficult to financially sustain the organisation's operations.
"We only charge RM110 for services to patients. Each nephrologist is asking RM15,000 a month. It is financially draining."