Saturday, 20 December 2008

Of By-Passes, Transplants and Open Hearts...The Sime-IJN Fiasco

The National Heart Institute or Institute Jantung Negara (IJN) is close to my heart in more ways than one. Firstly, it is a first rate hospital doing great work for all strata of Malaysian society when heart disease remains the number one killer (we are told it will be overtaken by cancer in 2010); in this context, we know how pertinent IJN is to Malaysia, when valuable human resource is just a heartbeart away from being lost every day. Secondly, I had an angioplasty done there in 1998 by none other than the eminent, Dato' Dr Roba'ayah Zambahari.

Back in 1998 it cost RM17,000 as a private sector patient for the angioplasty and I was more than glad to pay it. I remember consulting Dr Roba'ayah for the first time in the morning and getting the angioplasty done in the evening of the same day. Although if I were a civil servant, treatment is virtually free I was thankful for not having to endure the long wait list! To me, this was a fantastic formula for sustaining this wonderful organization for ALL Malaysians. One of the greatest mysteries I find today is when I hear people seeking treatment for heart disease in private sector hospitals instead of going to IJN. We have the best at IJN and as far as acquiring experience, nothing beats the specialists in IJN who deal with the heart day in day out.

Sime Darby in health care I also know well enough through Subang Jaya Medical Center (SJMC). Back in 1985 or so when SJMC was set up, Jeannie was one of its first 2000 patients. Krystyn (1986) and J.J. (1990) were born there and SJMC remained our "family hospital" until about 2000 when we sued the hospital and one of its doctors for medical negligence. SJMC had some of the best doctors in the country yet eventually we felt over commercialization of health care messed up some of their objectivity and priority. Who is to say this would not happen to IJN in Sime hands?

Now, we hear Sime Darby wants to take over IJN but is rightly facing lots of flak from the rakyat. Events unfolding over the last few days do not smell clinically clean. This is not the first time we have heard of Sime Darby's intentions in the health care sector. There was talk years ago that the Group wanted to privatize all major government hospitals in the country and eventually the whole national public health care delivery system I think. Its insurance arm complemented Group strategies by attempting to corner the health insurance market in the country. Market players in health insurance know how they have failed.

Sime made the following announcement to the KLSE on the 17th of December:

The next day, it announces that it had received the government's approval in principle:

It claimed it received fast-tracked approval pulak! On 18th December, this was verified by our great PM-in-waiting Najib who seems to have been infected by the same flip flop disease as the PM-on-way-out when on the 19th December, he announces the deal has been postponed. What the fcuk is all this? Who is advising Najib and gave him "foot-in-mouth" disease? It does not bode well for Malaysia when our so-called future PM appears confused and punch-drunk! Who else is tugging his chain? Read this blog: Najib Statement On IJN Doesn't Jive.

Taking care of the poor and needy, Najib? Kadir Jasin had this to say, and more: "That Sime Darby is close to the government is neither a guarantee nor a comfort. Sime Darby already owns and operates the Subang Jaya Medical Centre. How many poor people are being treated there at low fees?"

To stem human resource outflow from staff pinching and potential source of funding for expansion, Najib? Then why this statement from almost all the consultants in IJN?

We read with concern the perceived perception that the medical staff of IJN are demanding higher pay and will leave IJN if these demands are not met.

We feel it is important that these negative perceptions are correctly put into context.

The institution was set up in 1992 as a corporate body directly under the purview of Ministry of Finance. Its board of Directors include representatives from Ministry of Health and MOF to ensure its direction and objectives of providing good quality and affordable medical care to Malaysians from all walks of life are adhered to.

In that respect, IJN has done and continue to do well, both in maintaining its moral as well as financial obligations. The institution has been self-sustaining since its inception (and has been able to pay year end bonuses annually without fail). For 2007and up to end Nov 2008, we have accumulated 285,764 number of outpatients, performed 15,084 cardiac catheterization interventions including angiograms and angioplasties, 6,094 heart and lung surgeries, 7 mechanical hearts and heart and lung transplants surgeries.

As true with any organization of our size, there will be people leaving the organization at various times in order to pursue different career paths. Over the last 7 years of operation, out of a total of 35 consultants, only 7 have left IJN to work either in local or overseas private centres. Therefore, our consultants' annual attrition rate is only 3%, and we have responded consistently over time to promote our home grown talents to fill up the voids accordingly. Currently, 75% of IJN consultants have been in their posts for more than 10 years.

All of us are salaried based on a different payscale than that of the MOH though not at par with the private centres. Periodic review of salary scale is usually undertaken, subject to approval from Ministry of Finance.

As proven from our consultants' attrition rate and longevity in serving this institution, it is logical to surmise that on the whole we are happy with the current scheme and proving it by remaining with IJN. Many of us have served than 10 years, excluding time spent within the MOH Hospitals prior to setting up of IJN.

Whilst we have yet to have a clear picture of the proposed privatization by Sime Darby, we would like to reiterate our commitment to serve IJN in its current form and want to stress that the proposed privatization of IJN must not be seen to be as a response to our demands for better pay. The medical personnel of IJN are not at all involved, directly or otherwise, in the negotiations for the said privatization.

Being responsible employees of IJN, we are not in the position to dictate the outcome of the privatization proposal from Sime Darby to the stakeholders of IJN. However, the perception that the privatization proposal is in response to demands for higher remunerations by its medical staff is misconceived and must be corrected accordingly to safeguard and preserve the trust placed upon us by our patients.

1. Sharifah Suraya Syed Mohd Tahir
2. Suhaini Kadiman
3. Nor Azlina Abdul Jalil
4. Ariffin Marzuki Mokhtar
5. Thiru Kumar Namasivayam
6. Mohd Sharif Mohd Shaffie
7. Mohamed Hassan Mohamed Ariff
8. Azhari Rosman
9. Amin Ariff Nuruddin
10. Ahmad Khairddin Mohd Yusof
11. Aiza Aizan Abdul Rahim
12. Mohd Nasir Muda
13. Shaiful Azmi @ Jamauddin Yahaya
14. Balachandaran Kandasamy
15. Azlan Hussin
16. Razali Omar
17. Chew Soon Ping @ David Chew
18. Rosli Mohd Ali
19. Robaayah Zambahari
20. Mohd Azhari Yakub
21. Pau Khew Kong
22. Sivakumar Sivalingam
23. Abdul Rais Sanusi
24. Hew Chee Chin
25. Hamdan Leman
26. Alwi Mohamed Yunus

I do not know what is going on exactly in this developing IJN fiasco but Najib is the one tarred and feathered. For one who has benefitted from the surgical removal of outgoing UMNO President and by-passing an election for the President's post, has he compromized too much to be sitting where he is sitting? Who is doing the deal? Nazir Razak? Does the country need a major organ transplant? Well at least we know we have the brains and expertise in IJN! Well done Dato' Dr Roba'ayah and gang; we the rakyat salute you!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its the EVP of Healthcare's fault. His name is Hisham Hamdan and he is the EVP of Group Strategy and Development. All the stupid merger and acquisition comes from him:-

a) Synergy Drive
b) Hyundai
c) Bakun
d) IJN