PETALING JAYA - Medical organisations have lauded the Health Ministry's initiative to look into extending visiting hours in public hospitals.
Malaysian Medical Association president Dr S.R. Manalan said flexible hours were a good idea as family support was important in a patient's healing process.
Visiting hours in public hospitals on weekdays are during lunch and in the evening.
"Children and other family members may not be able to make it during these times.
"However, visiting hours should not be set when doctors are doing their rounds in the morning," he said.
It was reported that Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had been urging public hospitals to review and possibly extend their visiting hours.
Liow, however, acknowledged that government hospitals had a greater volume of visitors.
As such, the authorities must ensure they did not disrupt services, he said.
Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia president Datuk Dr Jacob Thomas also welcomed extended visiting hours in public hospitals.
"Every facility, be it private or public, needs to ensure their visiting hours policy is created with the patient in mind.
"The restrictions around visiting hours may need to be adjusted depending on the nature of the wards.
"Intensive care wards operate differently from normal wards while the requirements for open wards differ from single rooms, he said.
In Johor Bahru, State Health director Dr Khairy Yaakub said implementing flexible hours needed to be studied thoroughly first.
"This policy needs to be studied to ensure the safety of visitors and patients," he said.
Dr Khairy said government hospitals admitted a large number of patients and many were placed in open wards.
"A high numbers of visitors or people visiting throughout the day could encourage the spread of diseases especially at open wards and disturb the patients themselves," he said.
State Women, Family, Health and Community Development chairman Dr Robia Kosai said the plan could disrupt the work of hospital staff.
"Government hospitals have a large number of patients and flexi visiting hours will invite too many visitors,'' she added.