Members of the Thai Frontline Physician Confederation (TFPC) expressed their dissatisfaction with the Public Health Ministry’s response to the issues faced by healthcare professionals, including doctors. While the ministry recognized problems such as overwhelming workloads, personnel shortages, and underpaid staff, it did not provide a clear plan of action to address these concerns.
The TFPC attempted to discuss these problems with the ministry’s executives, but they were informed that higher pay or improved positions for doctors couldn’t be guaranteed. The union now hopes that the new public health minister will investigate these issues and resolve them, allowing medical professionals to work with less stress and pressure.
Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin, public health deputy permanent secretary, stated that the ministry has been actively working on addressing the issues faced by healthcare professionals. He outlined a four-pronged approach: payment, welfare, career paths, and workload management. To implement changes in these areas, the ministry must collaborate with relevant agencies.
For example, the shortage of doctors and related training will be discussed with the Medical Council of Thailand. The Civil Service Commission and the ministry will tackle matters concerning recruitment and retirement, including exploring a special employment scheme. As for workload management, the ministry plans to consult with the National Health Security Office, which oversees the universal healthcare coverage (UHC) scheme.
The expansion of medical and health services under the UHC scheme has led to a surge in patient numbers, putting healthcare professionals under a tremendous amount of pressure. The Public Health Ministry, as the main service provider for the UHC, cannot deny services to anyone, as explained by Dr. Taweesin. Public health permanent secretary Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong acknowledged on Tuesday that staff shortages had caused healthcare workers to be overburdened at some hospitals.
In conclusion, while the Public Health Ministry recognizes the challenges healthcare professionals face in Thailand, a concrete plan of action and collaboration between various agencies is necessary for effective and lasting improvements. With a focus on addressing payment, welfare, career paths, and workload management, the healthcare sector can provide better support for its professionals, ultimately enhancing patient care and the overall well-being of the nation.