SUNGAI PETANI (Bernama) -- There are only about 5,000 specialist doctors serving in the government hospitals nationwide and on top of that, hundreds quit to join private hospitals which offer lucrative salaries.

In addressing this issue, the Health Ministry is studying a number of proposals including giving additional incentives to its specialists so that they will continue serving in the government hospitals.

Its deputy minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the ministry views the issue seriously and hopes to retain the specialists that the ministry currently has by giving them new incentives.

"For instance, if they work far away like in Sabah and Sarawak, we will not only give them a lot of incentives but look for more to give them."

"At the same time we will train more specialists in various fields at local and overseas universities by giving them scholarships," he said after closing the 9th Advance Wound Management Symposium in Othopaedics 2016 at Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital (HSAH), here, last Friday.

Also present were Kedah Health director Datuk Dr Norhizan Ismail and HSAH director Dr Zainal Che Mee.

Dr Hilmi said other proposals that had been discussed included allowing the government specialists to work at the private hospitals, or by having full-paying patients or a private wing at the government hospitals, as had been requested by them before.

He said such a private wing had already been created at certain government hospitals like Putrajaya Hospital and Selayang Hospital.

"We are studying the request for more, but the only thing is that we are concerned about the conflict of interest, such as specialists asking patients to come to the paid clinics," he added.

On his visit last Friday to HSAH and the old hospital which is now a health clinic, Dr Hilmi said he saw the need for more haemodialysis machines for patients.

"I also visited the orthopaedic section of the hospital and was informed it needed an allocation of RM600,000 to buy new equipment to replace the faulty ones.

"I also see the need for a day treatment and care centre, and the ministry agreed to allocate RM150 million for a new building with the necessary equipment and facilities, to be constructed under the 11th Malaysia Plan," he said.