Posted on September 19, 2014

With a dramatic increase in the number of citizens seeking services of private clinics and hospitals after the launch of the second phase of the national insurance scheme (Seha), a senior official of the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) has warned the facilities against misuse of the scheme or discrimination between patients, The Peninsula said.

Complaints are on the rise about crowding and delays in appointments at private facilities included in Seha, especially the dental clinics. Many of them are struggling to cope with a sudden surge in the number of patients, after implementation of the scheme. In the second and current phase of Seha, all citizens are covered for their basic health needs. 

Many citizens who earlier avoided private clinics and hospitals are seeking their services expecting a faster service at no personal cost. In a report yesterday, a local Arabic daily quoted several patients as complaining about delays at private dental clinics included in Seha. A respondent alleged that some clinics are putting patients covered by Seha on waiting list and giving priority to others.

Asked, Dr Jamal Rashid Al Khanji, Acting CEO, Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners, the SCH body for monitoring private practitioners and facilities, said such practices will not be tolerated. “We have not received any such complaint so far and we don’t see any reason why the providers should do that. If it is true, it is a serious offence. All patients should be treated equally and priority should be given only on the basis of their health requirements,” said Al Khanji.

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He said crowding in private facilities is a temporary phenomenon and will be reduced when more facilities join Seha. “Only a few private providers have been included in Seha so far, because to join the scheme, a provider has to fulfil many requirements. However, the list of providers has been expanded gradually and the current rush will disappear with an increase in their number,” he added. He said “overutilization” of services is another reason for the rush. With launch of the scheme, even people with minor health problems would choose to go to a private clinic or hospital because they are more easily accessible than a public hospital.

“ This has to be monitored and controlled,” said Al Khanji. Delays in appointments could also happen due to a “second opinion” system in Seha. Some cases require expert opinion from a group of doctors and this could delay the procedures. Asked if there is any special monitoring of private clinics and hospitals included in Seha by his department, he said, the scheme itself has different “protective layers” to prevent misuse. He said a freeze on price increase imposed on private healthcare providers with the launch of Seha remained and no violation of this rule has been reported.