Why is professional judgment of GPs not trusted?

A Community Health Assist Scheme decal seen at a clinic. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

I agree with senior health correspondent Salma Khalik that the Government seems to be sending conflicting signals to patients who seek medical treatment at private clinics which are registered under the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) (Think through subsidy issue of Chas patients referred for polyclinic tests, Feb 15).

In the first place, this scheme was introduced so that patients could seek subsidised healthcare at private clinics nearer to their homes and not tax the services at polyclinics.

I am flummoxed by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong's reply that patients are charged private rate as polyclinic doctors are "unable to determine whether the ordered tests or investigations are appropriate".

That statement implies that GPs at private clinics cannot be fully trusted with their professional judgment, and patients are better off joining the queue at polyclinics if they want to enjoy the full subsidised rate.

The nagging question on everyone's mind is: What is the point of introducing Chas-registered private clinics in the first place?

It is contradictory that private GPs are trusted to provide normal treatment, but their professional judgment is cast in doubt when they decide to refer patients for follow-up at polyclinics as they do not have the facilities or equipment to do so themselves.

The authorities should do a better job of implementing policies and schemes that are less confusing and easily understood by the masses.

Seah Yam Meng

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