Published on October 22, 2007
The Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation is opening its own hospital to alleviate a shortage of beds.
There are just six hospitals in the province for 300,000 people.
The organisation's senior adviser Dr Kosol Taeng-utai said the move would help meet the demand for medical treatment and improve quality of life.
But it has annoyed the Public Health Ministry. It said the new hospital would take medical professionals away from state hospitals already low on staff.
The organisation's hospital will charge for services and will not be covered by the National Health Security Office universal health-care scheme.
"We want to focus on patients who can pay for medical treatment," Kosol said "We will provide them with quality care."
The organisation last August purchased the Phyathai Hospital in Phuket from the Thai Asset Management Corporation for Bt327 million.
Kosol said it would spend Bt150 million and 18 months renovating the 10-storey and five-storey buildings of the old hospital.
When finished next year, it will accommodate 200 patients.
Phuket has employed an executive from the Banphaeo Hospital in Samut Sakhon province to manage the new facility.
It is seeking medical staff from Mahidol University and locally. Family physicians will be invited to open clinics at the hospital.
"An executive board will operate the hospital and be responsibility for running it at a profit," he said. "If the hospital can survive the first three years, we will look at special treatment for the next phase."
Ministry policy and strategy bureau director Dr Supakit Sirilak said state hospitals in the provinces already had too few staff and the Phuket organisation's facility would lure even more away with offers of better salaries.
"We don't have enough medical workers to run hospitals across the country. We are concerned this new hospital will worsen the situation," Supakit said.
He was worried, too, that the organisation's hospital had no system of patient referral.
Nevertheless, the ministry is decentralising primary and hospital health care to local administration organisations.
The country's 1,572 state hospitals and 8,513 health-care units will be transferred to local administration organisations by 2010, he said. The ministry is asking state hospital workers if they want to work for administrative organisations, and evaluating the readiness of those bodies to operate hospitals.