Press Release
February 8, 2017

Hontiveros hears bill calling for better bed occupancy rates in DOH hospitals

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros today chaired the Senate Committee on Heath and Demography that deliberated a bill that seeks to improve the bed capacity of Department of Health (DOH) hospitals, and processes related to bed capacity.

Senate Bill Number No. 1143 otherwise known as the DOH Hospital Bed Capacity Rationalization Act, authored by Hontiveros, aims to give the DOH the ability to set and approve the bed occupancy rates of its retained hospitals.

Hontiveros said that there is a need to improve bed occupancy in public hospitals. The current bed occupancy standard set by the World Health Organization is at 80-85%. However, the senator said that with the devolution of health services, there are now only 70 DOH-retained public hospitals nationwide, of which 51 are considered general hospitals while 19 are specialty hospitals. The said DOH hospitals complement the devolved district and provincial hospitals, as well as private hospitals, in providing health care services to millions of Filipinos.

"Often serving patients beyond their allowed bed capacity, these hospitals are constrained by lack of adequate manpower and resources to fully provide the quality of health care their patients deserve. As a result of the mismatch between their authorized bed capacity and hospital bed occupancy rate, which according to one study averages at 121%, it is not surprising to hear stories of patients spilling over in public hospital hallways or of 2 patients sharing one bed," Hontiveros added.

Under current regulations, a DOH hospital can only increase its bed capacity via legislation. Hontiveros said that adjusting the bed capacity of a public hospital to be able to serve patients better has to compete with thousands of proposed bills in Congress and more often than not, these do not get approved or once approved, the need has already changed.

Hontiveros' bill gives back the DOH the mandate to address the problem of bed occupancy.

"The DOH is the best equipped agency to do this job given that it has both the technical expertise and the internal mechanisms to anticipate the public hospitals' future needs. By allowing the DOH to administratively set and approve the authorized bed capacity of its hospitals, we remove one barrier that impedes the efficient delivery of health service.

Bed occupancy refers to the utilization rate of the total number of beds in a hospital over a given period of time. Bed occupancy is critical to hospital resource planning and ensuring optimal care for patients. High bed occupancy rates normally means fewer days for in-patient care for those people who need hospitalization.

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