Managing patient load not a straightforward matter

Mr Francis Cheng's statement (Clinics have heavy patient load because of tardy docs; July 14) is anecdotal and a grossly unfair generalisation of the many general practitioners (GPs) who work long hours daily to attend to their patients' needs.

Branding all doctors as tardy, on the basis of his personal experience, is irresponsible.

Mr Cheng's suggestion of implementing an appointment system is also flawed.

Unlike specialist consultations, it is difficult to assign a fixed consultation time in primary care, given the varying complexity of each patient's medical condition.

Doing so would lead to significant downtime between patients, and fewer patients would get to see their doctor on any given day.

Most GP clinics close their queues early when patient load is overwhelming. However, the situation is not always straightforward. Turning away patients after a quota is reached is often a source of frustration for patients, and it is difficult for a GP to decline to see young children or those running a fever.

Financial costs may not always be the main consideration in employing another doctor. There are also issues with the availability of manpower and space constraints within clinics.

Zhang Weisheng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2017, with the headline 'Managing patient load not a straightforward matter'. Print Edition | Subscribe