Projects to build three new hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City and the northern province of Ha Nam are years behind schedule after repeated delays in construction, leaving patients suffering in jam-packed clinics.
Second locations of the existing Bach Mai and Viet Duc Hospitals in Hanoi are being built in neighboring Ha Nam Province, which is around 60 kilometers south of the Vietnamese capital.
The health ministry is the developer for both projects, aimed at receiving patients from north and north-central provinces, thereby relieving the tremendous workload currently placed upon top hospitals in Hanoi.
Each of the new hospitals received a whopping VND5 trillion (US$213.33 million) in investment and was planned to span 20 hectares in area.
Their construction began in 2014, with officials announcing they would be finished in 2017.
However, little progress has been made since and the land plot designated for the project remained deserted as of early 2018.
In May this year, the government announced that works on the projects had been halted for around 18 months due to issues with paperwork and approval of the designs.
The grand opening dates for both projects have been delayed until the third quarter of 2019, with a part of these hospitals set to be ready for operation this Sunday, the health ministry said this week.
Meanwhile at Bach Mai and Viet Duc Hospitals in Hanoi, patients often have to share beds or rest in the hallways due to the overcrowded conditions.
Another key project suffering from sluggish construction is the development of a second location of Ho Chi Minh City’s Hospital of Oncology, the top cancer hospital in southern Vietnam.
The 5.5-hectare project is developed by the municipal health department and includes a helipad on top of a ten-story main building capable of accommodating 1,000 patients at a time.
Construction broke ground in 2016 and was expected to finish in late 2017, but the opening date has been postponed twice to the first quarter of 2019.
According to the main contractor, the architectural complexity of the building, because of its helipad, is partly to blame for the delays.
“Adjustments to the construction plans consumed a lot of our time,” it said.
In the case of the new Bach Mai and Viet Duc Hospitals, the health ministry’s inexperience as developer of such massive projects played a part in the issues they have encountered, experts pointed out.
“While the ministry directly oversees the projects, it is advisable that they hire independent consultants to take charge of the management,” said Dr. Pham Sy Liem, vice-chairman of the Vietnam Federation of Civil Engineering Association.