Private doctors deserve better treatment — Lee Yan San

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MAY 22 — As a doctor, I am glad to see the change of our government. The health ministry of the previous government seems to be rather against the private medical practice sector. They have mismanaged our medical system in Malaysia so much that private health care is now very expensive as there are now so few general practitioners (GPs) in private practice due to the harassment by the authorities.

Very few doctors now want to start a general practice and many would prefer to work in hospitals, go overseas to practice. More doctors now want to become specialists.

Doctors are professionals and only those with intelligence can become one and yet the previous government showed no respect and trust in private doctors and keep harassing them with unnecessary new rules and new laws and made unnecessary checks on private clinics until many GP clinics decided to close down.

It is very important that the authorities must allow the doctors to use their time to concentration on looking after their patients instead of imposing too many rules for the doctors and force them to obey by imposing heavy punishment.

I have high regards and trust in my fellow colleagues. However, in all professions, there will be a few black sheep who are unethical in their practice. It is rather unfortunate that good ethical doctors have to be burdened just because of a few black sheep in the profession which I have no respect for as they tarnish the image of doctors. They can be dealt with by Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).

Doctors should not be treated like naive, immature children that need to be spoon-fed and told what to do. They should be allowed to do the right thing themselves as they are top professionals and are most trusted among all professionals from the latest public survey. There are now fewer family doctors left.

Doctors are already being governed by the Medical Act, Poison Act, etc and can face rather stern punishment when found guilty. These extra strict laws to oversee doctors are truly unnecessary.

There is now also a substantial fee in applying for newly imposed registrations. The government should not make any financial gain from such exercise.

General practice is very important.There are now fewer family doctors (GPs) left. Since there are now so few GPs, the public have decided to treat themselves by buying drugs over the counter (even scheduled drugs as supervision is poor).

Many therefore ended up with complications and have to be admitted to hospitals for treatment. The trend now has made private hospitals very busy and expensive and general hospitals are now also over crowded with patients.

Medical cost has increased so much also due to tremendous increase of drug price.

Many years ago before the late 70s, opening up a solo medical practice was a simple task. At that time, to start a clinic, a doctor only needed to register with MMC to make certain they are qualified, then find a suitable place to practice, make suitable renovations to it, hire staff and then he would be ready to start treating patients. No one dictates to us what we must do. Doctors are trusted to do the right thing.

The main routine work was to keep decent medical records, good record of drugs stocked, maintain a good financial account and practice with up to date knowledge and ethically as a good trusted doctor so that your patients will want to return to you again whenever they have a medical problem.

I hope the new government will encourage GP practice (family doctor) for the benefit of family health care.

Family practice still plays a very big role in the health care of our country and the authorities should do all they can to encourage it and not cause it to be less attractive by imposing too many rules.

* Datuk Dr Lee Yan San is a consultant physician and past president of MMA.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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