The private GPs have worked out a system where, although there will be a rise in their professional fees in line with what is being charged in private hospitals, they will be doing bulk purchasing of drugs and consumables, which will bring prices down.

These savings will then be passed onto the public.

This is a major shift from their old business model of being a stand-alone entity to a consolidated group where economies of scale will give them better purchasing power.

With this, they envisage that the total cost of a visit to a GP for a common ailment will still remain RM60-RM70.

This is as their professional fees will go up, but the cost of medicine will come down, and remaining true to the Hippocratic oath, they will pass this saving on to the public.

This, in fact, is known as bundling – a concept very similar to the value meals at fast food outlets.

The GPs have explained in detail the matrix of the fee schedule to all the various stakeholders, who have been reassured that there will be value for money and value for all, a true win-win situation.

However, in order to maintain international standards of developed nations and to ensure universal precautions to prevent cross-infection of infectious diseases like HIV or hepatitis, all consumables need to be disposed of, once used.

As such, there will be a small price to pay to know that the needle being used on you is sterile and will only be used once.

Even in this aspect, bulk purchasing of such consumables is expected to produce savings that can be passed on to the patients.

In the last few years, some private GP clinics have been forced to shut down, while others are barely surviving.

If their request for a reasonable increase in their professional fees after 27 years is not allowed, then more will be forced to close down and private healthcare will become more expensive as options for the public will be limited.

In keeping with other developed nations and to keep healthcare cost down, the private GP should be part of the integrated healthcare system, where in a patient-centred manner, not only will the GP treat common acute illnesses, but also be empowered to manage uncomplicated chronic NCDs and be the gatekeeper to the specialist by refering complicated NCD cases.

It is heartening to note that the Health Minister will be holding a townhall meeting with private GPs on June 11, 2019, to look into their challenges, and it is hoped that a happy solution will be reached based on reason and compassion.

Prof Datuk Seri Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai retired as the Health deputy director-general (Medical) in May 2018 and is currently a senior consultant in internal medicine at Hospital Kuala Lumpur.