Reducing hospital overcrowding, tightening hospital transfers and managing health insurance funds were among the topics discussed at a question-and-answer session of the National Assembly on April 17.

Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien admitted that hospital transfers were believed to be the biggest cause for hospital overcrowding and overspending of health insurance funds.

Statistics from the ministry show that around 60 percent of patients came to be examined and treated in central hospitals, she said.

Lack of faith in examination treatment quality at local hospitals was blamed for the situation, she said.

Deputy Le Van Lai did not agree with the ministry’s solution to reduce central-level hospital overcrowding by transferring recovering patients to satellite hospitals.

What would be if health problems occurred in the recovery stage? Lai asked. Only when satellite hospital treatment standards were raised would overcrowding at central hospitals be reduced.

Tien said facilities would be improved at satellite hospitals and their doctors would be trained to operate equipment for the examination and treatment of local patients.

Women who had cesareans, for example, were transferred to local-level hospitals for rest and treatment after delivery, she said. If they stayed in central-level hospitals, they had to share a bed with 3-4 others.

To reduce hospital transfers, the ministry plans to operate a family doctor programme for healthcare centre in communes, she said.

Doctors working at commune-level healthcare centres would participate in family-doctor training courses, she said.

The family doctors would provide first-aid for patients who would only be transferred to central hospitals if they were diagnosed with serious illnesses, she said.

The ministry officially started training family doctors in 2008. Now over 570 family doctors have graduated, most of them are working at grass-roots heath centres.

In response to deputies’ question on the examination and treatment for people aged 75 and over, Tien said the ministry would order hospitals to set up new areas and install equipment for them.

The ratio of hospital beds in Vietnam is now 21.1 per 10,000 people.-VNA