Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew has dismissed as misleading media reports that some hospitals in the Northeast were suffering financial losses and would have to close some units.
Dr Cholnan said that he and the ministry’s permanent secretary regularly discussed the matter. He questioned the accuracy of the media reports, noting that the people quoted no longer worked in the public sector. He was referring to a media interview with a representative from Nurses Connect.
According to one report, a maternity ward at a community hospital in the Northeast was closed with nurses reassigned to other units and patients referred to another hospital.
“The use of maternity ward services at several hospitals is low, with some months recording no cases — let’s say an average of about 10 cases per year,” Dr Cholnan said on Friday. “So the hospital director can consider making changes to ensure the best use of resources.”
To better manage all available resources, cases can be referred to another hospital, which also aligns with the ministry’s One Province One Hospital project, the minister added.
The comments about closures were made on Thursday by Suwimol Namkhanisorn, a representative from Nurses Connect. She was speaking to Hfocus, a news outlet about public health, about the heavy workload faced by nurses.
She said some nurses were still regularly clocking in 80 to 100 hours per week, and attempts by some hospitals to downsize units for financial reasons had raised alarm bells.
Ms Suwimol said there were complaints about the closure of a unit at a hospital in the Northeast, noting the closure affected not only staff but also services and patients’ access to care.
She said several healthcare workers’ groups would seek a meeting with the minister to discuss long working hours and better pay, as they felt their current level of remuneration did not adequately reflect their work burden.
According to Ms Suwimol, Nurses Connect is demanding a clear policy to lessen their workload to address the high number of resignations within the nursing community.
About 185,000 people work in the nursing professions in Thailand. About 7,000 leave the healthcare sector each year, a figure that also includes retirements and deaths.