Hospital stops free heart treatment

national September 20, 2017 01:00


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New requirement blocks Bangkok coronary unit from providing specialised surgery.

A BANGKOK-BASED hospital will stop providing specialised heart surgery for patients receiving free treatment under the universal healthcare scheme on October 1, because it fails to meet one requirement in new criteria set by the National Health Security Office (NHSO). 

The move will directly affect between 40 and 50 patients who have already been scheduled to undergo percutaneous coronary interventions at Mongkutwattana General Hospital between October and December.

These patients will have to find another hospital to perform their crucial surgery if they cannot afford to pay the bill that will cost at least Bt100,000. 

While the hospital has met all other stipulations it has not met one criterion – to hire at least one full-time cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon.

The hospital’s director, Maj-General Dr Rienthong Naenna, yesterday blamed the NHSO for the problem and said he planned to appeal the decision. 

“It’s not that we do not want to treat patients. It’s just that the NHSO is not going to allow us to take care of these patients anymore,” he said. 

He was upset that the NHSO has refused to endorse his hospital as one of the heart surgery centres that can provide percutaneous coronary interventions under the universal healthcare scheme, which covers nearly 50 million people. Mongkutwattana General Hospital has been assigned to take care of about 200,000 of these patients. 

When these people develop heart problems and need percutaneous coronary interventions, they have been able to get the treatment at the hospital for free. In recent years, the hospital has also served as a centre where primary service providers can transfer their heart patients for special services. 

However, the NHSO has decided to disqualify the Mongkutwattana General Hospital based on a new set of criteria that the hospital does not fully comply with.

NHSO deputy secretary-general Dr Prachaksvich Lebnak said yesterday the hospital had met all the criteria in regards to facilities, management, service-delivery standards, information systems and personnel. It did not comply, however, in the requirement to hire at least one full-time cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon. 

“If the hospital agrees to hire one full-time such surgeon, we will allow the hospital to continue providing Percutaneous Coronary Intervention under the universal healthcare scheme,” he said. 

At present, the hospital is the only facility failing to get endorsement as a heart surgery centre under the scheme of the 50 hospitals that applied. 

Rienthong said he found no good reason for the NHSO to force his privately-run hospital to hire a full-time cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon. 

“What’s the point? We are a private medical facility. Unlike state-run hospitals, we provide services every day around the clock, not just during the day from Monday to Friday,” he said. 

He also pointed out that his hospital had already hired between eight and nine surgeons for shifts that cover round-the-clock services, seven days a week. 

“We can provide specialised services. In fact, we have already provided heart surgeries to more than 900 patients and percutaneous coronary interventions to more than 9,000 patients,” Rienthong said. 

He said he would appeal against the NHSO decision by petitioning the Public Health Minister and NHSO board’s chairman Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn and Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha. 


 Key criteria for heart surgery centres set by the National Health Security Office (NHSO): Hiring at least one full-time cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, one full-time cardiologist and one full-time general anaesthesiologist, all of whom have to be ready to perform medical care 24 hours a day.

*** Mongkutwattana General Hospital does not have a full-time cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon. 


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