I AM writing to highlight the underhand methods which some corporations are using to squeeze doctors and general practitioners (GPs) in this country.
Recently, an established and well-known institution of higher learning sent an official communication to all of its existing panel GP clinics, informing them that they were being offered an extension of their panel status with the said institution.
After decades of providing quality primary healthcare services to the institution, these GPs now have to renew their commitments. This is a common exercise, as times are changing and the terms of the contract will need to be reviewed from time to time.
However, what is shocking is the manner it is being done and a new condition which has been introduced. This institution has now decreed that, in order to continue providing services to the institution, the GP clinics would need to pay a processing fee of RM2,500 for the two-year contract period. This means each GP clinic has to pay RM2,500 in order to be eligible to provide services to their employees.
To us, in the medical profession, we feel this is an attack on the integrity of doctors. Through the Hippocratic Oath, we are bound to provide our services to any and all, regardless of race or religion.
Now we have an institution of higher learning, which incidentally also has a medical faculty, that has single-handedly turned this most noble of oaths completely on its head. They are sending a message to the world that doctors now have to pay before they can render medical help to mankind!
They will argue that there is a cost to manage and process the clinics and doctors who provide this care to their employees. They will say that the costs to manage and administer this is rising due to many factors.
But yet, they have the gall to fix consultation rates at RM15 per visit, as opposed to the prescribed rates of between RM35 and RM50 by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) through the Fee Schedule.
They have also the nerve to fix medications at unfair rates. For example, upper respiratory tract infection has been fixed at RM21. One pays more for a cup of coffee at certain places these days!
Does this institution, which is also a breeding ground for new doctors, realise that the healthcare industry has also not been spared the increasing costs of doing business?
GPs are subject to increasing costs through higher rentals, utility charges, consumable and disposable charges, equipment costs, etc. This is mainly due to the introduction of the GST, which healthcare has been exempt and therefore cannot transfer the costs to patients. To these people I ask: Who is looking at the welfare of doctors?
The public may have the perception that doctors are wealthy and live the high life. I implore those who have this perception to stand outside any GP clinic and observe what car these GPs drive.
I agree that just like any profession, there would be the top 1% to 2% who have made it. But just because there are high-flying GPs who jet-set across the world, it doesn’t mean all GPs have the same life.
The average income of GPs these days is between RM7,000 and RM10,000 per month, and this is after 15 years of working. Most other professions provide better and greater opportunities to earn much more than that.
In the end, it is the poor GP who suffers. More and more organisations are taking advantage of the market forces to push doctors into a small, pitiful corner.
Additionally, I would like to highlight one important fact. This institution has now also introduced a kickback system into the market. Pay them in order to be allowed to eke some living out of their employees. Pay them before being eligible to provide services and send bills to them. Doctors now need to pay before being allowed to have patients.
What message are they sending to the medical students in their own faculty. This is against the Private Healthcare and Services Act 1998, which outlaws such practices of kickbacks.
Doctors have stood by and just allowed this entire thing to get to this stage. But as a member of this profession, I cannot just stand by and watch anymore.
I am imploring, even begging, for the Health Ministry and the Government to tackle this issue with utmost urgency and importance. Please, help the GPs.
A CORNERED GP
Surat ini telah menerangkan segala-galanya.
Aku dah tak kuasa nak berbahas.
Doktor GP hanya layak jadi pak turut dan budak belasahan.
Mudah dibuli kerana jarang melawan.
Kalau ada yang berani melawan,
mereka akan dipinggirkan.
Aku senang sahaja.
Rezeki aku Allah yang tentukan.
Bukannya syarikat-syarikat orang tengah lintah darat seperti ini.
Yang dah berlalu biarlah.
Tetapi mulai tahun ini,
tiada lagi orang tengah.
Biar tiada income,
asalkan hati senang.
Kerja juga biarlah ikhlas.
Dan setimpal dengan usahanya.
Kini kami ada PERDIM.
Persatuan baru yang berani memperjuangkan nasib kami.
Semoga Allah terus membantu kami daripada terus ditindas.