I refer to the recent report regarding the Cabinet decision to reject the proposal for harmonisation of GP fees with what was already approved in 2013.
Firstly, the revised fees for specialists and general practitioners were fully and meticulously discussed by all relevant parties including the Ministry of Health and finalized at an intensive two day workshop by the Fee Amendment Committee of the Ministry of Health many years ago.
The revised fees for both GPs and Specialists had been approved by the Cabinet of the day and gazetted into law on 10 October 2013 in the form of an amendment order called, the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act (Private Hospitals and OTHER Private Healthcare Facilities)[Amendment] Order 2013.
In all legal and common sense, the term, “and OTHER private healthcare facilities” clearly includes all GP clinics which are not based in hospitals.
In fact, the revised GP fees were among the first items to be completed during that 2-day workshop. For those who participated in that workshop, it was pointed at the outset that the GP fees section in the original Schedule 7 would similarly be amended in the final document to reflect the same as amalgamated in the amended Schedule 13.
It was never the mandate of the Amendment Committee of the Ministry to have two separate schedules for GP fees, a higher one for hospital-based GPs and lower one for non-hospital based GPs.
Nevertheless, in all fairness and in keeping with normal statutory construction, the GP fees stated in amended Schedule 13 of the said Order clearly supersedes that of the Schedule 7 which is by now is defunct as almost all the other items in it are already amalgamated in the amended Schedule 13.
The failure to include the agreed GP Fee amendment in Schedule 7 in the said Amendment Order 2013 is a serious administrative failure on the part of the Ministry of Health.
What must be also made very clear is that the GPs are NOT asking for another increase in their fees.
When this anomaly was first pointed out to the Ministry in 2014, we would expect it to take immediate remedial measures to rectify its own administrative failure so as to avoid unnecessary legal complications.
Instead of doing the needful, the MoH have left the issue to drag on for the past 5 years and now have chosen to cover up its failure by representing this as a new request by the GPs for another fee hike.
We are left with the question whether the Minister, the Cabinet and now the public are been misled in this issue.
Dr. Steven KW Chow is President of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM)
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