Posted by Jen on 23 October 2007, 2:16 pm
A chronic shortage of hospital beds is just one of the reasons that the provincial government of Phuket has opened up its own private hospital, a move which has upset the national Health Ministry.
Before the opening of the new hospital, the province had just six hospitals in operation to serve a population of 300,000.
According to Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation’s senior adviser, Dr Kosol Taeng-utai, the new hospital brings with it the real possibility of improving medical treatment in the province and therefore increasing people’s quality of life.
The new hospital will charge patients for their services which means that local people will not be able to use their National Health Security Office scheme to get services.
"We want to focus on patients who can pay for medical treatment," Kosol said "We will provide them with quality care."
When the building, which is currently being renovated for the sum of 150 million baht, opens next year, it will be able to accommodate 200 patients.
The hospital will be run for profit and the Health Ministry is worried that this method of management will lure qualified medical professionals away from hospitals managed under the national health system, thereby lowering the quality of care available to those without funds and increasing the medical care available to those who can afford to pay for it.
Dr Supakit Sirilak, a policy and strategy bureau director for the Health Ministry explained: "We don't have enough medical workers to run hospitals across the country. We are concerned this new hospital will worsen the situation.”
Medical tourism is already very popular in Thailand’s major city centers. Private hospitals in Bangkok, for example, often offer a very high level of care for considerably less than their American counterparts. When the new hospital opens in Phuket it will mean that tourists can get their medical check ups done while getting a tan on the beach.