WE ARE doctors specialising in various fields at Gleneagles Medical Centre and we support Dr Lee Wei Ling's gallant attempts to bring medicine in Singapore back to its noble roots ('Train GPs to be family physicians'; April 21).
We suggest the following:
• Invasive aesthetic procedures should be carried out only by doctors who have had adequate surgical training. Only then will the practitioner be able to recognise the early signs of complications. Complications happen even in the best surgeon's hands, but it is often how soon these are detected and the course of action taken that determine the fate of the patient. Aesthetic medicine is here to stay and the Ministry of Health (MOH) should organise properly sanctioned courses for all doctors who are keen to carry out invasive aesthetic procedures. The bar must not be set too low, and being allowed to carry out such dangerous procedures after attending dubious one- to two-day courses should be a thing of the past.
• General practitioners (GPs) are the vanguards of our health-care system. We want each GP to take his proper place as a 'specialist in taking care of the entire patient'. All of them have undergone training at great expense to the state or their families. MOH should make available rotation positions at various hospital departments for all GPs before they start work and at regular intervals after that, to provide opportunities for 'refreshers' to those who feel they need updates or have gaps in their knowledge of certain specialities. National service 'reservist-style' make-up pay is innovative and workable for this.
• Government subventions for GPs to treat subsidised cases is a win-win for all. GPs get more income and hence will be less likely to go for the more lucrative 'aesthetic medicine' route, and the already overcrowded polyclinics will be able to perform even better. In the same vein, many private specialists are also keen to help by treating subsidised patients who are presently referred to overcrowded specialist clinics at public hospitals.
The medical profession should do regular soul-searching, and if we find that we have deviated from our intended paths, we should have the courage to take remedial actions to rectify this.
Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan
NB: The Straits Times Editor chose to ignore the fact that the letter above was signed by 27 specialists of Gleneagles Medical Centre