Allocate space in polyclinics to private GPs

As private GPs see more than 80 per cent of the total primary-care patient load and with the national health policy to focus more on primary care in Singapore, steps could be taken to facilitate the entry of new GPs into the healthcare system (GPs working fewer hours, but seeing more patients: Poll; July 11).

To address rising property prices, a major concern for general practitioners, the authorities could consider allocating space within polyclinics for new private GPs to set up their practices at more affordable rental rates.

Such a move will not only ease the entry for new GPs, but also directly address the perpetual request by the public to extend the operating hours of polyclinics, as these doctors will be required to operate at night and during weekends, similar to neighbourhood GP clinics.

Moreover, it could relieve some of the polyclinic's patient load if walk-in patients to a polyclinic change their minds and decide that they want to see a private GP there instead because of a shorter waiting time, even though they would have to pay private rates.

Having a private GP clinic within a polyclinic will better ease the referral of private patients for allied and diagnostic services that are available in the polyclinic.

It also creates a social space for doctors from both the polyclinics and private clinics to exchange ideas and clinical knowledge.

A public-private partnership in the healthcare industry is not new in Singapore, and the presence of private GP clinics within polyclinics will provide patients with more convenience and keep GP charges affordable.

Ian Sim Mong Seng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2017, with the headline 'Allocate space in polyclinics to private GPs'. Print Edition | Subscribe