by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 4th March 1993:
The Kuala Lumpur General Hospital should re-establish a heart unit to cater for the needs for poor heart patients
The Health Minister, Datuk Lee Kim Sai said last Saturday that a Cabinet committee had been set up to find ways to help poor heart patients seeking treatment at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur.
In the past few months, the DAP had received endless complaint by poor heart patients that the exorbitant costs charged by the National Heart institute and the long wait for poor heart patients had virtually denied them of medical care and attention.
The Government should reconsider the whole concept of the corporatisation and privatisation of the National Heart Institute, as something is very wrong when the poor heart patients are neglected by the medical and health system. This also makes a total mockery of the government’s motto of having a caring society.
Charges at the National Heart Institute are clearly beyond the means of the poor heart patients. Coronary bypass and open heart surgery would cost $15,724 and $15,412 respectively with an additional 10 per cent surcharge, and $15,310 and $14,108 respectively for second class patients with five per cent surcharge. Third class patients will be charged $13,315 for open heart surgery.
Although the Cabinet had set guidelines since last year giving the National Heart institute the discretion to decide which poor patient would be eligible for operations paid entirely by the government, these guidelines are as good as ‘dead letter’ , and poor heart patients are convinced that the government and society do not care for their plight whatsoever.
One solution to ensure that poor heart patients are not in fact denied medical attention and treatment is for the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital to re-establish a heart unit to specially cater to their needs, and I hope that the Cabinet Committee would urgently make ¬such a recommendation for implementation by the Government.