When I was a medical student
I remembered in outpatient clinic,
A patient telling my consultant she would prefer to see him in his private clinic.
The consultant politely declined
Because he does not want to have a conflict of interest
That is monetary gains.
However I have noticed that since coming into the workforce
Quite a few of my consultants on ward service
Would refer our public patients to their private clinics
Even though they do not have private health insurance
These patients were never told they had to foot the out of pocket expenses.
I met an incensed patient
Who found himself in this situation
And was coerced to pay the fee
After the consult
And he would have declined the appointment
If he had known
Because he could not afford it.
I think it’s right to encourage patients to use the private system
If they have private healthcare.
That reduces the burden on the public system
And ensure adequate resources for those who can’t afford healthcare.
But it’s certainly unethical to shunt people from the public system into the private one
Without healthcare and certainly without informed consent.
Because it makes the conflict of interest very real.
But who governs this sort of behavior?