Slashing fees would be doctors’ greatest gift

A unique meeting takes place today to discuss proposals to slash by 70 per cent specialists fees hospitals charge patients.

Two guidelines, one released in 2006 that set maximum general practitioner consultancy fee at Sh2,500 and another in 2016 that set the maximum charges at Sh5000 will be in sharp focus.

The two guidelines also propose a reduction in a wide range of hitherto expensive specialised services.

All parties are yet to agree on which guidelines to follow. But be as it may, agreeing on slashing doctor’s charges will be godsend for millions of Kenyan, currently struggling with medical bills.

Many Kenyans will recall being invited to fundraisers to help clear a medical bill. As such, the fundraisers affect all Kenyans, either directly or indirectly, be they rich or poor. Scores of hospitals are holding collateral for unpaid specialist services. This is especially hurting when the bill is for services rendered to a patient who has since died.

We therefore stand with the directive by National Assembly Health Committee in December 2018 that the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board must have new cheaper hospital charges in place as soon as possible.

Let us not forget the painful circumstances that generated this directive.

In April last year, Matilda Anyango, a tailor, bled to death while undergoing emergency treatment after being stabbed.  For the 12 hour operation, the hospital slapped Anyango’s family with a bill of Sh858,000, the bulk of it for specialist services.

This story is not unique for Anyango and her family but is being replicated across the country.

It is therefore sad that some doctors have vowed not to participate in today’s meeting. Whatever their grievances might be, they must be seen to be on the side of Kenyans, many of who can barely afford their services.

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Doctors feesDoctor chargesMedical Practitioners and Dentists BoardNational Assembly Health Committee