While many public hospitals in the country are constantly packed with patients, private clinics are operating at only 50 to 60 percent of their capacity, or even as low as 20 percent.

There are currently 44 private hospitals in operation in Ho Chi Minh City, with four established in the last two years alone.

According to the Private Hospital Association, most private infirmaries in Vietnam were set up after the year 2000, so they have yet to build up their reputation compared to public hospitals that have existed for a long time.

The association also estimated that only one-third of these hospitals are able to make a profit, pointing out such difficulties faced by the medical facilities as capital shortage, an absence of reputation, inconvenient locations, expensive fees, unfair treatment from local authorities, and prejudice from patients.

By law, only hospitals with 100 beds or more can apply for soft loans, while the majority of private clinics in Vietnam are operating on a small scale with fewer than 100 beds.

Private hospitals are also ineligible for ODA funds, which are only reserved for public infirmaries.

ODA financing is undertaken by the official sector to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries.

In addition, the regulation forbidding the construction of new hospitals in downtown Ho Chi Minh City has pushed private hospitals to the city’s outskirts, making them difficult to reach and unappealing to wealthy patients.

Another major problem facing private hospitals in the Southeast Asian country is the lack of quality personnel, according to Pham The Dong, vice chairman of the Private Hospital Association.

Dong added that staff members at private hospitals are mostly made up of either retired doctors, who are experienced but lack physical wellness, or fresh medical graduates, who are lacking in clinical experience.

“Doctors at public hospitals are allowed in theory to work overtime at private medical facilities, but sometimes their directors from the public institutions bar them from doing so,” a private hospital’s director said.

Cao Doc Lap, director of Hong Ngoc Private Hospital in Hanoi, said that public hospitals only pay half as much as private ones for fresh graduates, but instead they offer training courses abroad, which the private establishments cannot afford.

Only a very small number of private hospitals have the financial ability to send doctors overseas for professional training or invite foreign specialists to Vietnam for expertise updates, Lap said.

According to Luong Ngoc Khue, general director at the Department for Healthcare Administration under the Ministry of Health, the number of private clinics in Vietnam currently only accounts for 15 percent of all hospitals, while the expected ratio is one private hospital to one public infirmary.

Khue added that there are many models of combined hospitals, a form of cooperation between the public and private sectors.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam once offered his remarks on the issue, “Our stance is to back every policy to develop a non-public medical system…We must agree that healthcare doesn’t distinguish between the public and private sectors, and is required to put patients first.”

Tuoi Tre News - March 14, 2016