When doctors can't even afford a Proton

When doctors can't even afford a Proton
Just when we think we couldn't handle another milk scandal, a report by China Central Television revealed how doctors and nurses take advantage of the first milk that is fed to babies.

In the old days, doctors drove Volvos but now they cannot even afford a Proton, says Qualitas Healthcare chairman and managing director Datuk Dr Noorul Ameen.

Having treated patients for 20 years, he knows what he's talking about.

"I told my only child: 'no way are you going to become a doctor'.

"Ten years ago our consultation fee was RM15 (S$5.80) and today it's still the same - it's insulting what doctors earn here.

"Most general practitioners with standalone clinics earn between RM7,000 and RM9,000 per month but spend about 70 per cent of their revenue on overheads," he claims, adding that cost of healthcare delivery worldwide has increased and that Malaysia is no exception.

He feels the Government should either support the private healthcare industry or allow the free market to determine healthcare pricing in the country.

Qualitas is a chain of over 200 clinics, dental clinics and pharmacies in Malaysia, India, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.

Dr Noorul says Qualitas has acquired many clinics in the Klang Valley because GPs cannot sustain their practice.

The Government, he feels, "has no business" telling doctors what to charge if it is not offering tax breaks or incentives for the private sector which provides more than 50 per cent of the nation's healthcare needs.

"In Australia, the private sector is given grants and incentives to ensure quality and better clinical outcome for our patients.

"Here, many cost-incurring conditions are imposed on us, yet we receive no support from the Government.

"Instead of fault-finding and telling doctors this is the minimum you can charge, the Government should be telling patients what is the minimum they have to pay," he says.

Dr Noorul, who spent a decade managing hospitals, denies that private hospitals are making huge profits, saying they need to constantly invest in the latest medical advancements.

Poor investment

"Hospitals are the worst investments one can make because the returns don't justify the huge amounts spent," he laments, adding that treatment here is cheaper than in Bangladesh.

On claims that doctors are also earning from dispensing medicine, he says the amount is peanuts.

In asking for higher fees, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) claims that their 15,000 members comprising general practitioners (GPs) and specialists are "hardly making ends meet" amid rising operations costs.

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