Brunei ‘not asking for discount on medical bill’

Brunei ‘not asking for discount on medical bill’
Dr Susan Lim, a private surgical practitioner.

BRUNEI'S Health Ministry (MOHB) has said that it is not seeking any discount for the services rendered by Singapore doctors to the Brunei Sultan's sister-in-law before her death in 2007, in response to this week's report in The Sunday Times about how it has not paid for these services.

A statement issued yesterday by its lawyers, WongPartnership, said the ministry wants "only to be charged a fair and proper amount for the services actually rendered".

The original bill of $24.8 million for treatment and other services provided over 110 days to Pengiran Anak Hajah Damit charged by Dr Susan Lim resulted in a disciplinary hearing against Dr Lim by the Singapore Medical Council.

She was found guilty of overcharging more than a year ago, and was fined $10,000 and suspended for three years. She also had to bear the cost of the proceedings, which included High Court hearings.

The Sunday Times reported that Dr Lim has yet to receive payment for those services, including the fees of third-party doctors. The statement said: "Our client, the MOHB, wishes to make clear that the MOHB has no issue with paying fair and proper charges for medical services."

What the ministry has issue with is that it considers Dr Lim's bills to be extremely high and without proper basis, the statement said. The original bill was reduced to $12.6 million in August 2007, and further reduced to $3.2 million in November that year. The statement said Dr Lim also gave the MOHB a document showing her charges to be about $8.8 million, with the $3.2 million for third-party bills.

It said: "In the circumstances, given the inconsistency of Dr Lim's various offers to 'discount' her bills, and since the matter was pending before the disciplinary committee, the MOHB took no position on Dr Lim's offers."

However, after the High Court's judgment in July last year, which upheld the decision by the disciplinary committee, MOHB engaged WongPartnership to resolve the issue of fees claimed by Dr Lim.

This matter was raised with Dr Lim's lawyers late last year and again early this year.

The statement said: "However, for reasons best known to Dr Lim, the MOHB was informed by Dr Lim's clinic in May 2014 that they did not want to engage in discussions through the MOHB's appointed lawyers."

The ministry told Dr Lim that it saw no reason to accede to her position, and asked that she direct all communications on her fees to WongPartnership.

salma@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 8, 2014.
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