The news came via a notice posted on Vachira Hospital’s website on Friday (Aug 24), which explained that the decision was made at a meeting held on July 26.
Any patients needing emergency care will still receive urgent medical treatment at Vachira, but patients who live in other areas where there is already a healthcare facility will not be admitted unless the patients have been referred by the healthcare facility in the patients’ area of residence, said the notice.
“Vachira Puket Hospital has reached full capacity and patients seeking medical attention should first go to the nearest available hospital or Tambon ‘Health Promoting Hospital’,” the notice explained.
The notice posted on Friday noted that that there are now 21 government medical facilities on the island, comprising Vachira Phuket Hospital, Patong Hospital, Thalang Hospital, Chalong Health Centre, Phuket Provincial Hospital and other Health Promoting Hospitals where people can seek medical attention.
“From Oct 1 people seeking medical attention should first go to their nearest available hospital. If that hospital is unable to deal with the patient’s problem the hospital will transfer them to a hospital that is able to assist,” the notice explained.
As an example, representatives from the National Health Security Office (NHSO), who were also in attendance at the meeting on July 26, stated that people living in the Thalang area and require medical attention should first visit Thalang Hospital. If the hospital is unable to treat the patient the hospital will transfer them to Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town.
Phuket has only one hospital – Vachira Phuket Hospital – that offers tertiary care, the notice said.
Tertiary care is specialised health care, usually for inpatients and on referral from a primary or secondary health professional, in a facility that has personnel and facilities for advanced medical investigation and treatment.
The current practice by people to use Vachira Hospital as it is the largest and best-equipped government hospital on the island has left the facility overwhelmed.
“This leaves Vachira Phuket Hospital short of staff and beds to deal with tertiary care patients and therefore, patients should first seek attention at Patong Hospital, Thalang Hospital, Chalong Health Centre, Phuket Provincial Hospital and other Health Promoting Hospitals which should be able to take care of them,” said the notice.
“If these hospitals consider a patient’s case too serious for them to deal with then they will be transferred to Vachira Phuket Hospital immediately.
“At present there are not enough beds to treat emergency or tertiary care patients,” the notice read.
“Due to the shortage of beds, there are often cases where patients have to be transferred to Surat Thani Hospital or sometimes even Maharat Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital in Nakorn Sri Thammarat province.
“If the number of patients requiring non-complicated treatment decreases, Vachira Hospital will be able to save enough bed spaces for serious cases,” it added.
However, Vachira Phuket Hospital will still receives patients seeking emergency treatment and treatment for non-complicated cases such as flu, stomach aches, diarrhoea, headache, diabetes, blood pressure, among other afflictions, the notice assured.
Vachira Hospital currently has only 551 inpatient beds, and will be adding space for a further 100 beds in the future, the hospital explained.
Staff at Vachira Hospital contacted by The Phuket News today were unavailable to comment on the current inpatient bed shortage.
Meanwhile, Dr Chuchart Nijwattana, told The Phuket News today (Aug 28) that the Chalong Health Centre should be the first port of call for people living in the Chalong area until the adjacent Chalong Hospital is completed early next year.
Dr Chuchart has already been appointed Director of the still-under-construction Chalong Hospital and now oversees operations of the Chalong Health Centre.
Today he referred to the Chalong Hospital as the Chalong Health Centre, though did not clarify any formal name change.
“The Chalong Health Centre is not formally open yet. When it should be fully open is still under consideration,” he said.
“The Chalong Health Centre falls under the same management of Vachira Phuket Hospital and they will be providing an update at the beginning of 2019,” he added.
“The centre is still not able to offer a 24-hour service and there is no inpatient service right now, but when the hospital opens it will offer 30 beds for inpatients,” Dr Chuchart said.