Private healthcare provider says integration with public hospitals can cut overcrowding

Opalyn Mok
Sunway Group Healthcare Services managing director Lau Beng Long said there should be a scheme where patients from public hospitals can be sent to private hospitals. — Pictures by Steven Ooi KE

SEBERANG PERAI, Sept 7 — A private healthcare provider suggested that the government introduce a scheme where patients in public hospitals be diverted to private hospitals to resolve overcrowding at government hospitals.

Sunway Group Healthcare Services managing director Lau Beng Long said this will allow patients to be treated at private hospitals at a pre-negotiated rate agreed by both the government and the private hospital.

“Due to overcrowding and shortage of beds in government hospitals, the government can consider sending some patients to private hospitals and the patients can pay a fair figure that is not too high and partially subsidised by the government,” he said during a press conference at Sunway Hotel after a groundbreaking ceremony of Sunway Medical Centre Seberang Jaya here. 

He said referring patients to the private sector will be a very good public private partnership (PPP) especially when private hospitals have surplus beds.

“This integration and sharing of resources would benefit the healthcare system in the country as a whole,” he said.

He said the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia is now in talks with the Ministry of Health on this proposal for PPP. 

As for the rates that patients may have to pay, which will be higher than public hospitals, Lau said they will need to work out an ideal fee that is in between the market rate and the government hospital rate.

“The government could partially subsidise the rates for these patients, maybe 30 to 50 per cent off the market rates, so that the fees will be a fair rate to the private hospital and the patient,” he said.

He said medical fees in private hospitals are higher compared to public hospitals due to the overhead costs that the private sector had to bear. 

“The private hospitals also have the latest innovation and medical technology that some public hospitals do not have so patients will stand to benefit from this,” he added.

Lau said there are now many senior specialists who are in the private sector so government hospitals can benefit by engaging these specialists in some cases.

“Specialists and doctors in government hospitals would also benefit from this collaboration as they will be coming to private hospitals where the latest technologies are available for them in diagnosing and treating their patients,” he said.

Last month, former health director-general Dr Mohd Ismail Merican reportedly suggested that the public and private healthcare sectors form an alliance to reduce overcrowding at public hospitals.

He proposed that both public and private hospitals share resources to balance out the workload between both sectors.

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