Children's Hospitals numbers 1 and 2, in HCM City have been systematically treating patients more quickly if they are able to pay.
Registration at Children’s Hospital No.2
A patient who took her granddaughter to Children's Hospital No.2 on June 14 said that she opted to pay a pre-examination price of VND50,000 (USD2.4). She said that that, after 30 minutes of waiting, she noticed that other patients were being taken before her granddaughter. After asking the staff, it was explained to her that, if she wanted her granddaughter to be seen quicker, she would have to pay VND150,000 (USD7.2).
"This way of operating is not only unfair, but is degrading to those of us who cannot afford the extra money," she said.
Another mother who took her daughter to the same hospital paid the VND150,000 (USD7.2). She said that the person at the desk suggested that if she wanted her daughter to be seen very quickly, she should choose the 'special service'. After paying the extra fees, she was given a ticket with the word "Special" printed on it.
When she took her child into the consulting room she saw a number of other patients waiting to be seen, but when she showed her ticket she was led directly into the room. Her ticket even allowed her to purchase her medicine before others after the exam.
A reporter who called Children's Hospital No. 1 to ask about their pre-exam rates was told that, according to their policy, they had two packages. For VND150,000 (USD7.2) a patient would be quickly examined, tested and be able to buy their medicine. The second package, costing VND70,000 (USD3.3), had no guarantees, and would depend on how busy the hospital was on any given day. It was promised that the higher rate would ensure priority even over those requiring specialised treatment.
According to Dr. Nguyen Thanh Hung, Deputy Director of Children’s Hospital 1, the hospital applies three price levels for pre-examination, VND50,000 (USD2.4), VND70,000 (USD3.3) and VND150,000 (USD7.2).
Hung said, “The hospital would like to diversify services to meet the demands of different patients. But our specialised consulting rooms do not have the capacity to deal with all patients needing those services, so at times we do have to juggle rooms. Still, no matter what prices people pay, the quality of their care is the same. The only difference is in waiting time."
Nguyen Thi Le Thuy, Dean of Children’s Hospital No. 2 said, “Our clinics were meant to serve about 500 patients per day. Now the number has grown to 4,500-5,000. This is the reason for overcrowding and long waiting times."
“Although we have built more clinics, the number of patients is still growing faster than our capacity to serve them. The special services we are offer were set into place for those who are on a strict time schedule, such as workers and traders. Since our human resources simply are insufficient to meet the demands of all patients, we are forced to mingle patients at triage. But we thing that this policy is better than causing inconvenience to patients who just need normal medical treatment," Thuy added.