GEORGE TOWN: The health ministry could look into the restructuring of consultation fees for general practitioners (GPs) after the Health White Paper is approved in the Dewan Rakyat, said health director-general Dr Radzi Abu Hassan.
“First, we need to pass the Health White Paper bill (in the Dewan Rakyat),” he told reporters after attending a town hall session at Dewan Sri Pinang here today.
“(Then) the issue of the fees and how (the restructuring) will be implemented could come later.”
Radzi also said the greater roles that GPs can play in providing primary care for communities will be included in the white paper, which will be tabled in June.
He was commenting on a suggestion made by Dr Kanthan Murugiah, an attendee at the town hall session, for the fee structure to be looked into.
Kanthan, who is the private practitioners’ section representative in the Penang chapter of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), said the GPs’ consultation fees have not increased over the last 25 years.
He said GPs who see patients with non-communicable diseases could only charge a maximum of RM80, despite the high cost of operating their clinics.
“This is a non-viable situation and something has to be done about it,” he said.
“One reason why the GPs have not gone ‘extinct’ is that they also dispense medications. So there is a little bit of something to make from there, and they are surviving on that. (Whether) it is ethical or not, this is the fact.”
Kanthan urged the health ministry to come up with “concrete reforms” to assist the GPs.
He also called for doctors in government hospitals to be allowed to form unions to fight for their rights, adding that it is “high time” for them to be given an opportunity to do so.