Private hospitals deny exploitation charges

DUBAI — Denying that private hospitals are exploiting healthcare seekers in the country with unethical practices, representatives of private healthcare services have claimed that the sector had quanlitatively complemented the public health segment, a contribution which should not be ignored.


Asma Ali Zain

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Published: Fri 29 Sep 2006, 8:08 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:54 PM

In response to a report published in Khaleej Times on September 10 (Hefty charges keep patients away from govt, pvt hospitals), private healthcare providers maintained that the sector had offered much to patients in the country in terms of choices, state-of-the-art technological health advancements, in addition to the customer service quotient missing from government hospitals.

Says B R Shetty, MD and CEO, NMC Group of Hospitals, ''The growth of healthcare in UAE has mirrored the growth of the nation from the sandy settlements to bustling modern cities of today.''

Reminiscing, he says, ''I still remember the days when an X-ray scan appointment would be scheduled after a gap of three months''

Replying to allegations terming private hospitals as unethical exploiters , Shetty says such a generalised accusation was not warranted as it can be applicable to only a few who practice in such manner. ''Such practices definitely come under the scanner of the health authorities who are doing a great job monitoring them,'' he adds.

According to Shetty, the private sector has actively contributed in complementing the public sector. ''While the government hospitals have been expanding to meet the requirements of a burgeoning population (less than 500,000 in 1975 to 4.4 million in 2005), the private sector stepped in with more than 30 hospitals and innumerable clinics to close the gap.'', he points out.

Supporting the stance of Shetty, Dr Prem Jagyasi, Director - Business Development and Marketing, on behalf of Jebel Ali Hospital says, ''In recent years, the private hospital have played an essential complementary role to public hospitals, providing efficient services to satisfy high demand. The private industry is preferred for all sorts of out- patient treatment. The number of out-patient treatments in Dubai are almost double as compared to government hospitals, especially because of less waiting time and personalised services offered by the private industry.''

There are 588 private clinics as compared to 22 government clinics (DOH and MOH combined), says Dr Jagyasi,adding . „''It‚s also a matter of giving choice to the patient who can choose where to go (whether a hospital or clinic) and which doctor to see at any time,''

On the cost factor Dr Jaghyasi says ''Comparison of prices is unfair as each country has their own set of price metrics. The same quality of services in the US and Europe could be three times more expensive than in the UAE. Does that make the services in the West bad ''? The comparison should be under similar context like the entire health sector of the Asian countries (including Thailand, Malaysia, India ) with the UAE.

Upcoming multi-specialty hospitals will also hopefully provide more facilities in the UAE and patients would not be required to leave UAE for treatment.

'' The private hospitals are actively involved in prevention of health diseases and provide significant information of hospital services utilisation along with database of medical conditions attended at hospitals, this helps government to take special measures for planning and prevention.'' says Dr Shetty .

'' The private sector has remarkably invested in technology and skills other than value-added services. „Several Quality Standards have come into the country benefiting the healthcare sector. Companies have General Quality Standards like ISO, SIX Sigma, etc. Then they move on to Business Excellence models like Dubai Quality Awards, Shaikh Khalifa Excellence award etc eventually tagging on to specific Healthcare Standards like JCI, Canadian Health Standards, Australian Health Standards etc. These have the effect of strengthening the intrinsic quality of the organisation and imbuing them with best practices of this sector,'' he explains.

On regulations guarding the healthcare sector in the country, Shetty said, ''Currently regulators in the country are doing an excellent job. But in addition, I suggest they issue guidelines on ethical practice. Unhealthy and unethical practices should be firmly dealt with after giving warnings, naming and de-licensing.

He said that the private hospitals/medical centres of Abu Dhabi had already jointly formed an association aiming to conduct business in fair and ethical fashion. ''Healthcare organisation that do not follow the code of ethics will not be allowed to become member, or there is already one, he will be warned before eventually being eased out,'' he added.

He suggested that authorities open up dialogue on the licensing and related issues, involve the private sector in the Compulsory Medical Insurance and also encourage private sector in a public private partnership.

According to statistics provided by MoH and Dohms for 2005, the private healthcare sector makes up 31 per cent of the country‚s total healthcare facilities, making a total of 856 private hospitals of total number 2,688. The remaining are government hospitals. Private hospitals in total offer a facility of 856 beds out of which 73 are ICU beds with 54 operation theatres of the total 81.

Outpatient visits to the private hospitals in 2005 have been 2,474,204 as compared to government hospitals where the number of visits remained at 1,250,000. As per the future plans for 2010, private hospitals will account for more than 67 per cent of the total beds in Dubai.

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