PRIVATE hospitals will definitely feel threatened if the Health Ministry should set up private wings in general hospitals to enable government specialists to augment their income.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek made this proposal recently and the private hospitals have indicated that they would submit a report putting forward their views on this matter.
Dr Chua also expected the private hospitals to be against the idea as the private wings would provide competition to the operators of such medical centres set up by the private sector.
If the proposal should be implemented, the special sections to be set up in general hospitals would operate like private hospitals and the private sector has reason to fear such a move.
In fact, many of the private hospitals are having a tough time getting business due to the keen rivalry among the existing ones. With the government-sponsored ones coming into the picture, the future is going to be even bleaker.
The medical wings to be set up by the ministry will have many more advantages than the private-managed ones.
The specialists will just be there to provide the services without having to worry about overheads and other expenses.
All the facilities and equipment have been paid for and the specialists will just be getting their share of the consultation fees.
They will also not be allowed to charge exorbitant consultation fees in order not to burden the public.
Experience at the University Malaya Medical Centre and Hospital UKM has shown that their charges are much lower than that of those charged by private hospitals.
Private hospitals therefore have reason to be worried if the ministry should implement its proposal as they can never hope to compete successfully in such a situation.
But where the public is concerned, the private wings should be set up as they will offer another alternative to those who wish to be treated at a private hospital at a reasonable cost.
This is a threat which the private hospitals can do without and no doubt they will be hoping that the ministry will have second thoughts and forget about this idea.
Otherwise their survival will be at stake and those who cannot meet the challenge will face serious financial difficulties and their operations will be badly affected unless they can think of new strategies to save themselves.
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