Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Private hospitals to get their say on healthcare legislation

Establishment of Strategic Partnership Council represents 'first time in Abu Dhabi that all health services fall under one umbrella'

Laws governing health care in Abu Dhabi will not be passed without input from private hospitals, following the formation of a council that seeks to reconcile the divide between public and non-government medical centres.

On Monday, the Department of Health announced the formation of the Strategic Partnership Council, a group made up of representatives from private and public hospitals who will workshop healthcare legislation before it can be issued.

The Department of Health is the government entity responsible for issuing regulations and permits relating to healthcare in Abu Dhabi. Legislation issued by the authority applies to public and private hospitals though, previously, private medical centres were rarely consulted on such laws.

Headed by Sheikh Abdullah Al Hamed, chairman of the authority, the majority of the council members are heads of private hospitals — including Mohammed Al Hammadi, managing director and chief executive of United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical), Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director of VPS health care and the National Health Insurance Company, Daman.

"We do not want health decisions to be restricted to the government sector and see the private sector as an important strategic partner for the development of the health sector in the emirate. Today, and through the council, they are our partners in the decision making process,” said Mohammed Al Hameli, undersecretary of the authority.

"If they find themselves to be affected by an upcoming government regulation then they can object and discuss it with us. They will also be our partners in giving recommendations on how to improve health services,” Mr Al Hameli said.

“This is the first time in Abu Dhabi that all health services will fall under one umbrella.”

The lack of input from private hospitals has caused issues in the past. In 2016, a 20 per cent copay was imposed on Thiqa card holders in Abu Dhabi for treatment at private healthcare facilities. The decision meant some Emiratis in long-term care would face bills of up to Dh60,000 a month.

That decision was cancelled by order of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, after it was deemed detrimental to the private sector.

Referring to that incident, Mr Al Hammadi, said: "This is why this collaboration is so important. There used to be no interaction between the government and private sector."


Read more:

Abu Dhabi hospital rating system helps improve services and patient health

Unified medical record database coming to Abu Dhabi


Officials from both sectors will also work together in research for the first time and will meet every quarter.

"The council will advise on recommendations for best healthcare policies and standards, training programmes and workshops that will contribute to improving the efficiency of clinical practices, as well as academic and medical curriculums,” the Department of Health said in a statement.

“They will also seek accreditation requirements for educational health institutions, training centres, continued medical education programmes in addition to providing the necessary recommendations for licensing, investigations, disciplinary and ethics codes. The council will also weigh in on revising policies and procedural standards to reflect the latest scientific developments and medical practices.”

A Technical Advisory Board, responsible for licensing and specialised medical training, was also formed under the council.

The board is chaired by the undersecretary and has formed two committees of cardiac and oncology doctors.

These committees comprise six doctors each who will make recommendations on how to improve medical services and treatment.

They will review the performance of other doctors and if there is a need for more treatment options.

"The aim is to have a committee in each medical specialty by the end of the year," Mr Al Hameli said.

The committees will also help direct medical investments where needed and to review the latest treatment technologies.

Updated: January 21, 2019 10:01 PM