Hospitals in Hanoi have run into problems applying new hospital fees due to unclear regulations on fee calculation and staffing shortages, according to hospital representatives.

The increase saw hospital fees swell fivefold from August 1 this year following a nod from the city’s People's Council on proposals from the municipal Health Department.

Fees now range from 15,000 VND (0.7 USD) for clinical examination to 6.6 million VND (300 USD) for neuro-imaging services. Accordingly, the fee hike corresponds with nation-wide increases under Health Ministry Circular 04 issued last year.

Although the Ministry of Heath (MoH) has requested hospitals to hire additional medical staff to help doctors meet quotas of 35 patients per day, the Director of Saint Paul's Hospital, Nguyen Pham Y Nhi, said labour shortages are hampering the ability to implement the regulations.

The Director of the Dan Phuong District Hospital , Nguyen Van Trung, said problems also stem from not knowing how to calculate prices for some medical services such as post-natal haemorrhages.

Echoing the sentiment, the Director of the Hanoi Hospital for Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Nguyen Duy Anh, complained that current hospital fees are still low when compared to average expenses.

Although the Ministry has legislated that second tier hospitals with specialised wards - including the Hanoi Hospital for Lung Diseases and the Vietnam-Cuba Hospital - can charge fees used by first tier hospitals, the municipal People's Council is yet to implement the decision.

Hospitals have now proposed for city authorities to approve a list of services to shift to upper-level hospitals, due to high pricing and irregularities.

Director of the Hanoi Department of Health Nguyen Khac Hien said his department will propose a competent body to approve the list of services and resolve the shortcomings of complex pricing.

He urged hospitals to display fees clearly for patients and monitor the effectiveness of medical staff. Hospitals are also required to report their income and expenses to the department one month after applying the new fees.

The department will continue supervision to improve the quality of hospital care and resolve the current shortcomings, he said.-VNA