The study, GP Fee Survey 2013, that I co-authored documented how the rise in clinic operating cost outpaced health inflation between 1996 and 2013 - a rise of 6.9 per cent versus 2.97 per cent, respectively (GPs working fewer hours, but seeing more patients: Poll; July 11).
Despite rising costs, general practitioner prices remained relatively unchanged, with the average fee paid by a patient increasing by just 2.59 per cent over the 17-year period.
While recent reforms in the Singapore healthcare system, such as the enhancement of the Community Health Assist Scheme and the introduction of the Pioneer Generation Package, improved affordability and reduced out-of-pocket costs for patients, they did not directly address the issue of rising clinic operating costs.
Viable and sustainable primary-care services have been associated with a lower all-cause mortality rate in the country.
With 80 per cent of primary care in Singapore being provided by the GP sector, it is necessary and important to support the GP practice and ensure that general practitioners continue to provide good primary-care services, without the distraction of external economic pressures.
Andrew Tay (Dr)