Chas, PG schemes must remain voluntary for GPs

The Community Health Assist Scheme and Pioneer Generation scheme have resulted in a couple of positive developments.

General practitioners are seeing more patients returning to their fold, overburdened polyclinic doctors are eased of a burgeoning patient load, and patients no longer need be shunted redundantly from GP office to polyclinic for referral to tertiary healthcare institutions to seek care at subsidised rates.

Most importantly, patients are more compliant with their chronic disease medications, given their trust and confidence in their personal choice of doctor, who is now able to prescribe longer periods of medicines, as costs are contained by subsidies previously available only in the polyclinics.

Yet, the schemes must remain voluntary, strong advocacy and gentle persuasion for them notwithstanding (Make all private clinics accept PG and Chas cards by Mr Dun Fashe; March 4).

Private clinics are entirely autonomous, governed only by the strictest of professional and civil codes. They cannot be mandated to comply with ad hoc government programmes, well meaning and beneficial though they may be.

Doctors have their reasons not to come under the schemes. Perhaps they are winding down their practices, do not want the hassle of online checks and claims, or are not keen to have another set of strict guidelines imposed on them.

A disgruntled medical practitioner forced into the schemes against his will guarantees only a dissatisfied patient.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'Chas, PG schemes must remain voluntary for GPs'. Print Edition | Subscribe