Abu Dhabi: Private hospital patients have to wait for two to three hours to be seen and medical specialists are working long hours with limited resources and returns.

The issue emerged on the second day of the Daman Regional Conference, which saw a debate on corrupt measures taken by some private hospitals and doctors during a discussion on the implementation of the compulsory health insurance law.

Dr Kassem Alom, Managing Director, Al Noor Hospital said it was clear that patient numbers in private hospitals had increased.

"In July 2006 when insurance was implemented, we noticed that the amount of in-patients had increased by 30 per cent. By 2007 that number had risen to 40 per cent," said Alom.

In his presentation, Alom admitted that the quality of service for patients in private hospitals was not high and medical staff were working long hours.

Dr. B.R. Shetty, Managing Director and CEO of New Medical Centre Group told Gulf News that the number of in-patients in private hospitals in 2008 had risen by a good 50 per cent.

Shetty also confirmed that certain private hospitals were exploiting the health insurance system.

"Some doctors give an unnecessary diagnosis and prescriptions to patients to gain extra commission, as their salaries are low. This has resulted in mistrust towards the private sector.

"I hope that those private hospitals start to follow a less bureaucratic attitude and that the Health Authority Abu Dhabi as well as insurance companies start to differentiate between certain private sectors and regain confidence in us."

A law against unethical behaviour in private hospitals should be implemented, added Shetty.

Both specialists felt that building a hospital was not a solution to the problem.

"Nowadays there is hardly any space to build in Abu Dhabi, and if you do find space it takes from two to three years to be completed. Until then we ask the authority to be a little bit more flexible with the private sector."