For illustrative purposes only Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Though it is unethical, doctors working on a commission basis in smaller clinics is a common practice in the UAE, medical professionals said.

Many doctors who are low-paid make deals with the clinic owners that they will pull in patients with their reputation and are offered up to 20 per cent commission by the clinics.

The commissions are offered after a certain slab is reached by the doctor such as getting Dh50,000 business per month, Gulf News has learned.

One clinic owner said that it is very expensive to run a medical establishment in the UAE and he has to resort to such means to break even. This practice is fairly common in the smaller emirates where the number of clinics has burgeoned over the past years and doctors are paid as low as Dh8,000 in some professional fields.

An orthodontist who makes about Dh3,000 per day has the clout to ask for the commission, the owner said, not wishing to be identified.

There are more than 500 privately-run clinics in Sharjah alone.

The other issue patients have of the doctors here is the issue of over-testing. David Hadley, CEO of Emirates Healthcare Ltd (EHL), said such a practise occurs in the UAE, though it is unethical. "That's because of incentivisation," he said.

Incentivisation

The CEO said doctors working in EHL are offered salaries that are commensurate to their experience so there is no need for them to look for other incentives as commission.

On another note, he said the healthcare services in the UAE have improved significantly over the years.

Dr Azad Moopen, Chairman of the DM Healthcare Group, told Gulf News in an earlier interview, that there is a "bad culture' of incentivisation of practise. "Some doctors over-prescribe, but that's a minority," he said.

The chairman of the Group which runs a number of clinics, hospitals and pharmacies, said many doctors still "under-prescribe", that is, not ask for a series of tests or prescribe antibiotics and other drugs.

Doctors said they are under pressure from the patients to over-prescribe as the patient expects an answer to his ailment as soon as he steps into the clinic.

Giving an example, a doctor said earlier, the treatment of a headache would have taken its course from giving a paracetamol to maybe a CT scan after a month or two if the headache persists.

"Now we have to assure the patient immediately or he goes to another clinic where he is immediately offered the tests," he said.