KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 – Over 5,500 people have signed a petition demanding fair wages for general practitioners (GPs), whose consultation fees have been capped by the government at the same rate since 1992.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), the biggest doctors’ group in Malaysia, started the petition on change.org to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the government after the National Cost of Living Action Council (NACCOL) declined to raise private GP fees, requesting yet another financial impact study.
“In the year 1992, exactly 27 years ago, the MMA recommended that GP fees for consultation was RM10 to RM35,” said the petition.
“After years of negotiation and impact studies, the government in 2013 had approved the adjustment of GP fees to a range of RM30 to RM125 in the 13th Fee Schedule which is used in the private hospitals. However, the GP fees in the 7th Fee Schedule was missed out.
“Upon noticing the anomaly in 2015, the Malaysian Medical Association had suggested to incorporate the approved RM30-RM125 and that the range of fees be subdivided into simple RM30 to 50 (simple), RM51 to 80 (moderate) and RM81-125 (complex), which usually takes 45 to 60 minutes.
“Due to administrative reasons, the approval is yet to be gazetted till today.”
MMA added that the cost of running a clinic today is higher than 27 years ago; some clinics bear rising costs by a factor of up to even 10 times or more.
“In the last five years, nearly 500 clinics had closed and many surviving clinics find it a daily challenge to survive.”
The association said that by increasing GP fees, total encounter fees including drugs, blood tests etc would be minimally impacted due to a decrease in drugs cross subsidies as well as free market forces.
“We urge that everyone, please help the GPs to keep their practices sustainable and continue to provide better services for the public and Nation. The GP practices contribute to the GDP of the country and creates employment for more than 30,000 staff and their families. The market size is RM5 billion annually.”
As at 6pm, the petition received a total of 5,543 signatures, which is a feat as GP clinics in Malaysia are in excess of 7,000.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad told the press last week that the Health Ministry would now present the issue of harmonising private clinic GPs’ consultation fees with their hospital counterparts to the Cabinet, after the matter was discussed at NACCOL.