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Mon 21 Dec 2015 11:06 AM

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Bahrain aims to cut costs by flying doctors in to treat patients

New initiative will be a change from the current policy of sending Bahrainis abroad for treatment that is not unavailable in the kingdom

Bahrain aims to cut costs by flying doctors in to treat patients

Bahrain is set to fly medical experts in to the country as part of a cost-saving measure to be implemented in the New Year.

The new initiative will be a change from the current policy of sending Bahrainis abroad for treatment when a particular healthcare is unavailable in the kingdom.

Health Minister Faeqa Al Saleh told the Gulf Daily News that the department will bring doctors and medical experts to Bahrain to treat patients, which she said will help cut the $66 million (BD25 million) spent annually on treating Bahrainis abroad.

“It has to be implemented at the beginning of next year as I have made that commitment to the Cabinet,” said Al Saleh.

“We can’t go on with the current system; it is not serving the intended purpose as it costs a lot and could be addressed by flying in doctors. We have contacted several hospitals and doctors who are experts in treating the illnesses that we cannot deal with here, such as certain types of cancers, and the response has been positive.”

Bahrain’s government currently covers the cost of the treatment as well as flights, hotel accommodation and spending money. The practise was one of the costs that was criticised in the Administrative and Financial Audit Bureau report, which said there was no guidelines or conditions in place to decide on budgets for each treatment, which has been decided by a committee who do not have the sufficient expertise in specific illnesses.

The new system was trialled last month, when six patients were treated in Bahrain instead of sending them abroad.

“This doesn’t mean that we are going to have everyone put on a waiting list, we will shortlist in accordance with the numbers of patients in each illness category, to ensure that whenever a doctor is flown in they can treat the most patients at one time,” Al Saleh said.

“Among the doctors who have agreed to take part in this new scheme so far are from India, Singapore, Thailand, Germany, the UK, Belgium and the US.”

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