KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — Only 115 out of 889 private clinics, or 13 per cent, closed down over the past four years because of a tough economy, Dzulkefly Ahmad said.
The health minister was responding to Klang MP Charles Santiago in Parliament, who had raised the possibility of 600 more clinics shuttering, on top of 300 that already closed, if Pakatan Harapan decides not to revise private shop lot general practitioners’ (GPs) consultation fees that have stagnated at RM10 to RM35 since 1992.
“I noticed that from the amount until now, 889 clinics that closed from 2015 until May 31, 2019, I noticed that only 115 were related to economic problems, 13 per cent were from economic problems,” Dzulkefly said during Question Time in Parliament yesterday.
He cited other issues for the closure of private clinics, such as moving premises and management issues.
Bagan Serai MP Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali pointed out that clinic GPs were not asking for a raise per se, but were simply requesting that their consultation fees be the same as their hospital-based counterparts, whose rates were raised to between RM30 and RM125 in 2013.
“So what is being asked is just a harmonisation fee that was agreed upon by MOH (Ministry of Health) in 2013, but was not stated in Schedule 7; it was not gazetted,” the Bersatu lawmaker said, referring to the provision under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act (PHFSA) 1998 that regulates clinic GPs’ fee structure.
Dzulkefly acknowledged that private clinic GPs were indeed simply seeking a harmonisation of their consultation fees with rates earned by medical officers in private hospitals, and said he had proposed to Cabinet last April 24 to revise the former’s rates to RM30 to RM125.
“It’s not really a raise,” he told Parliament.
However, the Cabinet had requested that the matter be discussed first at the National Cost of Living Action Council before making a decision.
“I’ve tried to elaborate on this as much as I could to the Cabinet about the situation and position of private clinic GPs,” Dzulkefly said.
“We are tabling this at the National Cost of Living Action Council. In just a little time, I will be able to table this and, God willing, I can go back and retable this at the Cabinet.”
Dzulkefly, who is also Kuala Selangor MP from Amanah, told a town hall meeting with GPs last June 11 to wait for the economy to improve before expecting a revision of their fees.