Unfair to charge private consultation rates for a trainee doctor

KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) has always been the leading hospital for the care of women and children in Singapore.

Hence, it was surprising to find that there is no emergency department for Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) services.

In its place, there is an urgent O&G centre that charges private consultation rates to patients without polyclinic referral letters, or private patients on follow up.

In a medical clinic setting within a government restructured hospital, patients are usually charged private consultation rates when they are seen by a qualified specialist with board certification. Patients who are seen by trainee doctors are charged subsidised rates.

But this is not the case in the urgent O&G centre at KKH. I was charged private rates despite being seen by a registrar, who is considered a doctor in training.

Patients should not be discriminated against in an emergency setting and made to pay private rates when they are not being seen by a specialist.

In other government hospitals, the emergency departments charge a flat fee, regardless of previous or current class status.

The way that KKH has restructured its charges for the urgent O&G centre makes charging discriminatory against private patients, who are made to pay private rates without being given the specialist consult they are paying for.

Michelle Liang Weiting (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2018, with the headline 'Unfair to charge private consultation rates for a trainee doctor'. Subscribe