Last week our house was wracked with ill health – the week before I returned to work. So bad was it that I was tempted to ask the powers that be to change my compulsory leave to ‘sick leave’.
Anyway, as a result of all this illness Sugar dragged herself to the after hours doctor. Because it was a statutory holiday the fee (a consultation which resulted in an antibiotic prescription) was $90 compared to the normal $70. If she had visited our regular doctor the fee would have been $47.
While Sugar was paying, a woman, obviously ill, came in and asked reception how much the fee was. When she was told the fee was higher because of stats she asked when it would be back to the normal rate.
“In two days time” was the response.
The woman turned around and left. She’s probably lying in a diabetic coma somewhere unable to drag herself back to the clinic.
I digress. The beef is this. Our doctor pays (and is subsidised by the government) to have his patients taken care of by this clinic while he is on holiday and in the weekends.
In the old days before After Hours clinics he might have got a locum to cover for him, and the fee would likely have stayed around the same charge ($47). Now however we all need to pay 50% more on a normal after hours day and 100% more if it’s on a public holiday.
Is this extortion? I think so. Restaurants and cafes only charge 15% more on statutory holidays, and that’s optional.
It’s obvious that people are going untreated with this fee structure – evidence provided by the woman who turned on her heels at the thought of paying the $90.