Kuwait is to bar foreigners from attending public hospitals in the mornings fronm June 1, local media have reported.
Health Minister Mohammad al-Haifi, who is also a surgeon, ordered that the outpatient clinics at the public hospital in Jahra, west of Kuwait City, will only receive Kuwaiti patients in the morning from next month.
The new system will be applied at the clinics at Jahra hospital for six months on a "trial basis before its application at other (government) hospitals", local papers said.
The decision comes after complaints in parliament of Kuwaiti patients having to wait for treatment at public health facilities because of the large number of expatriates.
Under the change, Kuwaitis will be given priority for medical checkups at public hospitals and clinics during the morning, with foreigners only able to access doctors in the afternoon, unless it is an emergency.
Last month, it was reported that staff also will be segregated according to their nationality, with Kuwaitis working in the morning and expat doctors in the afternoon.
The move is seen as favourable to Kuwaitis while reducing the level of care given to expats, who make up about two-thirds of the Gulf state’s population but would have fewer hours they could seek medical attention.
Kuwait is home to 2.6 million foreigners, mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Egypt and Syria, and 1.2 million native Kuwaitis.
Kuwait provides free medical services to citizens but expats must pay an annual fee of $175 each besides paying reduced charges for certain procedures like x-ray.