GPs can be as valuable as specialists

Ms Angela Wee's predicament is not uncommon and exposes an anomaly in medical insurance coverage (Denied Shield claim for minor surgery at specialist clinic; March 11).

Most minor surgery can be done by general practitioners in the confines of their clinics at a fraction of the cost and hassle, compared to having the same procedure conducted in a hospital.

In less than an hour, patients walk home to recuperate, free of expensive nursing care, monitoring or other encumbrances.

Yet many patients still prefer referral to a hospital, where a specialist needs to be engaged and the patient admitted for at least six hours, simply because it would fulfil the criteria for making an insurance claim.

The consequences of this are obvious - hospitals are overburdened, specialists have to perform basic operations, patients are inconvenienced and insurance premiums soar.

Core competencies and experience, together with continuing medical education, make GPs as valuable as specialists to the community in their application of vocational skills, albeit on a separate level.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2017, with the headline 'GPs can be as valuable as specialists'. Print Edition | Subscribe