Fee splitting erodes trust between doctors and patients

Fee splitting is frowned upon because it casts doubts on the medical profession ("Doctors barred from paying agents percentage of fees"; Dec 14).

There is no justification for fee splitting.

The lack of patients and business is not a good reason.

Similarly, medical practitioners must not pay landlords a portion of their gross income in order to secure more prominent shop units.

Discounts, special offers, free gifts, enticements and irresponsible advertising are equally frowned upon.

These gimmicks will adversely affect the medical practitioner-patient relationship.

For the sake of the public, the medical profession must stand firm and not waver.

Dr Hajime Ichiseki has missed this most important and fundamental foundation of trust that modern medicine is built upon ("Third-party agents helpful in matching patients to docs"; Dec 20).

Convenience cannot justify the use of third-party agents.

Some countries that have allowed kickbacks in their system are seeing a backlash, such as unsatisfied patients stabbing doctors.

Similarly, countries which rely heavily on third-party agents have the situation of residents being shuttled around town in ambulances trying to seek medical attention.

Primary care physicians are positioned as gatekeepers and navigators for the system. They know who to refer their patients to should the need arise.

Companies should not sacrifice the health of their workers by signing contracts that cannot deliver healthcare services the workers deserve.

Doctors must not forget the public they serve.

Leong Choon Kit (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2016, with the headline 'Fee splitting erodes trust between doctors and patients'. Print Edition | Subscribe