Bahrain to ban private medical practice
Manama, June 6, 2013
Bahrain’s health officials have warned that a new rule banning doctors from working in both the public and private sectors will be introduced, quashing rumours that the plan has been scrapped.
It was due to come into effect on April 1, but was delayed after HRH Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa ordered a review, according to a report in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
The proposal was first mooted in June, 2011 and doctors were originally given until the end of last year to choose between public or private practice, but were then given an additional three-month grace period.
It was designed to improve government health services, reduce public sector waiting lists and combat unethical practices - such as doctors charging money from patients to fast-track their surgeries or other medical procedures.
Delays in implementing the rule have apparently sparked rumours that it was being scrapped altogether, but the Health Ministry yesterday issued a statement explaining that it was still going ahead.
It added that the plan was being reviewed to ensure the best implementation, which included securing better salaries for doctors who give up their private clinics to remain in the public health sector.
"The government is serious about implementing a proposal to ban government doctors from practising in the private sector," the Health Ministry said.
It said the plan was being studied in consultation with experts in various fields, including representatives of the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) which oversees government staff.
"There is a lot being said, but we wish to reiterate the project is subject to further research and study," added the statement.
"The ministry has put up all the proposals regarding the issue for further scrutiny and review, in consultation with the competent authorities. The CSB is looking at increased remuneration for doctors working in the government sector to ensure continuity of service and best possible services for patients.
"There are also discussions taking place on staffing plans in the government hospitals so that services are not affected after doctors leave to pursue their private practice."
The new rule has caused controversy in the health sector, with government doctors demanding salaries of BD7,000 ($18.465) a month to give up their private surgeries.
Meanwhile, 35 of 81 doctors at Salmaniya Medical Complex refused to give up their private business to remain in the public sector. – TradeArabia News Service