The sick may soon shy away from private doctors

Medicine and healthcare. — file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUCHING, August 28: Doctors in private practice may soon charge between RM35 and RM125 for consultation fees: This is a considerable hike from the current rate of between RM10 and RM35.

According to a Bernama report yesterday, deputy director-general of Health Datuk Dr Azman Abu Bakar said the current consultation fees had not been revised for nearly 12 years.

The proposed increase was agreed to at the ‘Town Hall Session: Stakeholders Consultation on the Proposed Revision of General Practitioners’ Charges’ that was held at the Health Ministry.

Dr Azman said they received many views to review the rates, and the proposal was supported by medical practitioners and consumer organisations.

On how the charges are defined, he said the more complex one’s illness, the higher the consultation fee, and the ceiling would be RM125.

The proposal will be presented to Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, who will then submit it to the Attorney-General’s Chambers and federal cabinet for endorsement.

He added that before any decision could be made, the ministry would gather feedback and views from all quarters to ensure that the time is right to review the consultation fee and that the revised rate is reasonable.

Meanwhile, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii urged the ministry to review the proposed revision in a fair manner and not just for the interest of the industry but also for the interest of the people.

“I understand there is a need for a revision since the last revision of charges was done was in 2006, but the revision must be done based on the current needs and also situation of the people.

“While I am not privy to the points raised during the discussion, I believe a few matters would have been considered, especially the possibility of the increase of health care cost. The possibility is this might cause more patients to go to the government clinics, including the Emergency Department, thus contributing to increased congestion in those departments,” Dr Yii said in a statement today.

On the other hand, he said it was understandable that there was a need to strengthen primary care, especially the need to “decentralise” from the tertiary hospitals to the different clinics that were better located in different areas of the community.

“Thus I also understand the reason for these private doctors to have incentives to provide quality health care in these primary care facilities, especially in areas or communities that are not too heavily populated to provide better reach and access for them,” he added. — DayakDaily