NHSO allows Mongkutwattana hospital to treat heart patients under gold card scheme

About 50 heart patients awaiting surgery under the government’s universal healthcare scheme at Mongkutwattana Hospital are assured that they will receive the medical treatment they need.

Under the National Health Security Office (NHSO)’s new regulation which will become effective on Oct 1, hospitals qualified to treat heart patients under the universal health care, or gold card scheme, must have at least one resident doctor specialized in heart diseases.

Mongkutwattana Hospital and seven other hospitals do not meet the requirement because they do not have a full-time cardiologist, according to NHSO. This mean from Oct 1 onward, the universal healthcare scheme members who seek medical treatment for heart diseases at these hospitals will have to pay on their own.

Mongkutwattana Hospital director Dr Rienthong Nanna has strongly protested against the regulation, saying this will affect between 40-50 patients who are awaiting for heart surgeries under the gold card scheme at the hospital.

The NHSO board chaired by Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn met on Thursday (Sept 21) to discuss the issue raised by Dr Rienthong.

After the discussion, Dr Piyasakol said that the board attached public safety as top priority and since the regulation was meant for the safety of the patients, it should not be amended to accommodate the problem faced by private hospitals who do not have a resident heart specialist.

But to ease the concern of the patients awaiting heart operations, he said the board agreed to extend for another year the enforcement of the regulation by allowing the hospitals which do not have a resident heart specialist to hire a part-time specialist to be based at the hospitals.

However, the hospital has to make sure that it has to comply with the new regulation within one year.

Dr Sakchai Kanjanawatana, the NHSO secretary-general, has been assigned by the board to talk with Dr Rienthong regarding the board’s decision.

Meanwhile, Dr Prachakvich Lebnak, the NHSO deputy secretary-general, said that the one-year reprieve would give enough time for the hospitals to make preparations to meet the requirement set by the regulation.

After learning about the decision, Dr Rienthong expressed his thanks to NHSO board for giving one-year reprieve to eight private hospitals, including Mongkutwattana hospital, to make available at least one resident heart specialist at each hospital.

Dr Rienthong said his hospital currently has three heart specialists taking turns to take care of patients around the clock and seven days a week.

However, he still questioned the rationale of the NHSO regulation requiring hospitals joining the universal healthcare scheme to have at least one resident cardiologist.

He noted that private hospitals like Mongkutwattana are different from state hospitals which have doctors, including heart specialists, working full time from Monday to Friday only.

He maintained that it was needless for his hospital to have one extra heart specialist “just to do the administrative work to coordinate with the NHSO concerning the transfer of heart patients.”

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