Sunday, December 5, 2010

NST: DG says: 'Future of GPs assured'

'Future of GPs assured'

NST: 2010/12/05

GENERAL practitioners will not be marginalised or made irrelevant with the introduction of the primary healthcare-led (PHC) reform under the "1Care for 1Malaysia" programme.
This assurance comes from director-general of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican who stressed that the future of GPs was "secure" under the proposed restructuring of the healthcare system.

Dr Ismail said the 1Care for 1Malaysia reform was necessary as sustaining the present healthcare system would be difficult in the face of a changing environment with double-disease burden, changing disease patterns, increasing healthcare costs and increasing demands by a more informed population.

"The need for change is inevitable. There are early signs of deterioration in the service delivery. The out-of-pocket expenditure in healthcare has escalated.

"There is widening disconnect between the public and private sectors and primary and secondary care, which will compromise the continuity and comprehensiveness of care and create an additional burden to the public."

To meet these challenges, he said the country would need about 17,000 to 23,000 doctors to be trained as primary health care physicians in the next 10 years.

He urged GPs and family medicine specialists in the public sector to join forces to provide comprehensive primary healthcare.

"For this to happen, GPs must enrol in courses to upgrade their skills and knowledge, and they can do this online without having to vacate their offices or clinics.

"The government, through the Ministry of Health, is prepared to even provide some funding for them to do so."

He explained that the 1Care for 1Malaysia programme would also change the way healthcare is financed and delivered by moving away from the current fee for service, volume-based system to one that is based on value and performance.

He said the fear by GPs that this represented a "diminishing pie" or a "shrinking income" for them may be misplaced.

"The details are still being worked out and we seek the views of GPs before any final decision is made."

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