Shouldn't top doctors charge top dollar?

SINGAPORE - Even with a fee guideline, it would still not be possible to say how high is high ("Doctor's charges: How high is too high?"; on Wednesday).

A doctor's fees cannot be based on market sentiments alone.

Even within the same speciality, some are more skilled and experienced than others, and the services can differ greatly. So fees are bound to vary.

It is possible to determine an average fee for surgery by an average surgeon. But what if he is the top surgeon in Singapore? Is he not entitled to charge more? And what if he is the top surgeon in the world? Would he not be entitled to charge top dollar? Supposing the doctor goes even further and dedicates his services solely to the patient, is he not entitled to an extraordinary fee?

There is no doubt that Dr Susan Lim is not your average doctor. Both the Singapore Medical Council and the Court of Three Judges think she is an exceptional one.

Her patient had the means to choose any top doctor from any part of the world, and yet she chose Dr Lim.

Her dedicated service included attending to the patient at a hotel even when she was recovering from eye surgery.

Can anyone really determine what could be the right fee for a doctor like her?

Singapore is trying to attract top talent. We always talk about paying top dollar for top talent.

Isn't it ironic if it comes to pass that a local-bred top doctor should be entitled to only an average remuneration?

Wong Wee Nam (Dr)

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