Candidates outline healthcare policies

Key figures of political parties speak about their campaign policies on medical personnel at the Public Health Ministry on Thursday. Most parties agreed medical professionals should receive adequate protection against malpractice lawsuits. Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

Political parties have agreed that doctors should receive adequate legal protection from malpractice lawsuits, a forum was told on Thursday.

The Public Health Ministry hosted a forum where parties were invited to showcase their policies on the professional security of medical personnel. It was attended by the Democrat, Bhumjaithai, Seri Ruam Thai and Palang Pracharath parties.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the Criminal Code should be amended with a specific clause added that would excuse medical professionals providing treatment where patients already face a high risk of dying from legal liability.

In malpractice lawsuits, a separate law is needed to cover doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, he said.

Some officials engaged in non-essential work at other state agencies should be transferred to the Public Health Ministry to help ease staff shortages, the Democrat leader added.

Doctor workloads in state-run facilities could be alleviated by launching health promotion projects to make people healthier so they do not need to go to hospital, according to Mr Abhisit.

Bhumjaithai leader, Anutin Charnvirakul, said the Public Health Ministry's medical service providers should be placed under a new management that will give them more flexibility in staff recruitment, which can help tackle shortages.

The budget for hiring more nurses should come from the National Health Security Office, which could lessen the financial burden on the Public Health Ministry.

Mr Anutin said state lawyers, such as prosecutors, should represent medical personnel in malpractice lawsuits.

Palang Pracharath spokesman, Kobsak Pootrakool, told the forum it would be difficult separating medical personnel from the existing bureaucracy as it would mean cancelling their pensions and entitlement to state-provided welfare.

To reduce the workload for doctors, his party proposed establishing local clinics offering basic medical treatment. This way, not as many people who are sick will have to visit a hospital, he said.

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