Finally truth is out - Suva Private Hospital

16/08/2012 12:16

The Consumer Council is urging Suva Private Hospital (SPH) to stop misleading members of the public by stating that its services are operating as normal. In fact it’s the opposite.

The claim by SPH is inaccurate and misleading. The Council has been informed that medical specialist practitioners qualified to provide specialist services at SPH are still withholding their services and it is far from truth that SPH is operating “normally”.

The Council is demanding answers from SPH on why it is misleading the public through public notices placed in newspapers on 4/8/12 in response to Council’s call for an enquiry. SPH stated in that “all of Suva Private Hospital Services are operating as normal” which is grossly inaccurate.

Thirteen practitioners specialised in gynaecologists, anesthetists, surgeons and obstetricians have written to the Council stating that they have withheld their services. It is only in emergency situation that the specialists provided services in good faith. The dispute with SPH relates to paying of facilities fee “ranging from 20% to 30% of specialists’ professional fee.

These specialists further claim that SPH’s position is that all patients seen by the specialist practitioners are “personal” patients of the specialist and therefore medical specialists are operating as individual independent contractors using the SPH administrative system and facilities to see their patients.

The Council believes that the new demand placed by SPH on medical specialist is simply “double dipping”. A patient who visits the SPH pays for the facility (eg, theatre utility fee), accommodation, medicine, personnel etc. So why are they demanding facilities fee from specialists that is already paid by the patient? The Council hopes that the demand placed by SPH will not make the costs of specialist treatment in Fiji beyond the reach of many if the cost is passed down to the consumers.

The Council has seen that SPH bills patients on ‘user pay’ concept but it fails to deliver based on what patients pay. A good example is where a private hospital has stopped making appointments for patients who visit the medical centre. Public pay more to visit SPH for their convenience and comfort but it seems SPH is looking at its convenience first. Unfortunately, the change in policy is not reflected in reduction in fees.

The hospitals failure to notify the public of the changes taking place is causing more confusion and frustration among the consumers. Some consumers have paid up premium health insurance that provides them access to the Suva Private Hospital services, but these are not being met as they cannot make appointments to see a doctor.

The Council has been receiving e-mails and phone calls from patients who related their experience at SPH which is now behaving like a public hospital.

It is sad to note that some of the affected patients who were already facing life-threatening conditions have had to run around in circles to only find out that the specialist were not available at the hospital. These patients were told on arrival at the hospital that specialist services were unavailable and patients would be referred to CWM Hospital.  The patients had to pay for the ambulance services that could have been avoided if they had gone directly to CWM rather than being referred by SPH. Also, patients and their families would avoid unnecessary costs and hassles if SPH was more transparent and truthful about its current level of available services.

The Council also believes that SPH should publish in the newspaper all the specialist services being offered by SPH “normally”.