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Mon 11 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Physicians still guarding patients closely

General practitioners in Dubai are unwilling to refer patients on to specialist centres, according to the CEO of Dubai Bone and Joint Centre (DBAJ).

General practitioners in Dubai are unwilling to refer patients on to specialist centres, according to the CEO of Dubai Bone and Joint Centre (DBAJ).

Stiff competition and a culture of mistrust between healthcare providers are preventing patients from accessing appropriate treatment, said Dr Suzanne Al Houby.

"It was very difficult to get referrals to begin with and it still is a continuous challenge," she said. "Most of our patients, in fact the majority, are still self-referrals - the numbers of referrals are increasing, but they are still not really significant.

The referring of patients to a sub-specialist has been a difficult to sell to Dubai's physicians and Al Houby claims DBAJ faced hostility from the market.

"It was educational for the community and we were criticised very much when we first started," she said. "People said it would not be viable or cost-effective and the outcomes would be the same.

Al Houby said that DBAJ has had to actively contact healthcare professionals and grant assurance that they will return patients to their practices.

"We want to come to a point where, like a mature healthcare practice, the community knows that they have to send a patient to the right doctor.

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