In line with his advocacy to provide better quality and more accessible medical and health care services for all Filipinos nationwide, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has filed a legislative measure to help improve the capacity and service capabilities of public hospitals in responding to the needs of the people.
Go seeks to authorize the Department of Health (DOH) to set and approve the bed capacity and service capability of the 73 DOH-retained hospitals in various parts of the country.
Senate Bill (SB) No. 1226, the proposed DOH Hospital Bed Capacity and Service Capability Rationalization Act of 2019, aims to “expedite the process for improving the capacity and capability” of the hospitals, as stated in the explanatory note of the bill.
“Under current regulations, a DOH hospital can only increase its bed capacity and improve its service capability through legislation,” the senator said.
He noted that there should be a more efficient way of enhancing capabilities of public hospitals and, at the same time, empowering the DOH to fulfill its mandate of improving healthcare in the country.
“Ayusin po natin ang proseso para matulungan ang ating mga kababayan na nangangailangang magpagamot. Kapag maayos ang kalusugan ng mga Pilipino, mas dadali ang pag-asenso ng bayan,” Go said as he emphasized the importance of health in making citizens more productive.
SB 1226 requires the DOH to “provide Congress, through the Committee on Health of the House of Representatives and Committee on Health and Demography of the Senate, an annual report of hospitals with approved bed capacities, along with the necessary funding requirements.”
The report will be the basis of Congress in including the funding requirements of the hospitals in the annual General Appropriations Act.
SB 1226 also obliges the DOH to “develop the Philippine Health Facility Development Plan (PHFDP) to guide the modernization and development plans of all government health facilities, and in order to access capital outlay investment through the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of the DOH and other national government capital outlay investment mechanisms.”
The bill further directs the secretary of health to “include in the Department’s programs the funding requirements for the adjustment in bed capacity and service capability of each DOH hospital in accordance with the PHFDP and the hospital’s modernization and development plan.”
Go said he filed the bill because Republic Act No. 11223, the Universal Health Care Law, mandates “a people-oriented approach for the delivery of health services that is centered on people’s needs and well-being.”
He noted that DOH hospitals “often (serve) patients beyond their authorized bed capacities” and “are further constrained by the lack of adequate staffing, maintenance and operating resources,” resulting in “longer waiting times for patients and delays in their treatment.”
He also cited the 2017 PHFDP, which stated that the ratio of general hospital beds to the population is 1:1,142. Go said the ideal ratio is 1:1,000.
In his visits to public hospitals around the country, Go has observed the need to further enhance these institutions which are lacking basic necessities, such as beds, equipment and even funding to adequately address the medical needs of the community.