(MENAFN - Arab News) The Health Affairs Directorate in Jeddah has discovered that some doctors employed in government hospitals are illegally working in private hospitals.
"Some Saudi consultant doctors and medical practitioners in the government sector are violating regulations by offering consultancy services in the private sector," Director of Health Affairs in Jeddah, Dr. Sami Badawood, said.
The officials from his office discovered these violations while making inspection tours in private hospitals, the director revealed.
The Ministry of Health does not permit doctors and other health officials in the government sector to undertake any service at private hospitals, as it is strictly against the ministry's regulations.
The ministry's directorate conducts surprise inspection visits to private hospitals to ensure they are not violating any regulations.
"This kind of violation is of limited precedence and has been detected only in a few medical specializations," Badawood said, adding that penal action will be taken against erring doctors and hospitals.
He said the directorate discovered an average of two violations of this kind monthly. The minimum fine for a doctor employed in government hospitals who violates the regulation is fixed at SR 10,000, but it could go up to SR 100,000. The private hospital involved in the violation has to pay a fine of between SR 50,000 and SR 100,000. When the violation is repeated a second time the punishment may include suspending the hospital's license, he added.
On the other hand, Nasser Al-Zahim chairman of the medical services committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) said if a doctor working in public hospitals is offering his services to a private health care entity it is an issue that concerns the ministry only. "The private sector is not responsible for that. It is not the fault of private hospitals," Al-Zahim said in a statement to Al-Hayat daily.
He added that the private sector is in need of consultancy services from Saudi medical specialists since only very few Saudi specialists are working in private hospitals. "Private hospitals mostly depend on expatriate doctors and recruit specialist doctors from abroad. Meanwhile, some Saudi universities cooperate with the private sector and offer consultancy services. Many doctors in universities are working night shifts in private hospitals," he said.
He added that doctors working in government hospitals are allowed to work in private hospitals only under special arrangements such as the "loaning system."
His committee often meets with officials from the ministry with the aim of strengthening cooperation between the private and public sectors.
He said the JCCI's medical services committee is a strategic partner with the Ministry of Health as the ministry serves the entire health sector, not the government sector alone.