KUALA LUMPUR: Following criticisms by consumer groups and individuals over the 14.4% increase in private medical practitioners' fees, Director-General of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the professional fees also cover procedural and performance fees. He said the revision of these fees, which started in 2010, had taken into account the overall inflation rates and was based on the consumer price index specifically for healthcare for the year 2002 to 2010. The consultation fees for general practitioners was increased from the previous range of between RM10-RM35 to the new rates of between RM30-RM125. "(The quantum) was agreed after much deliberation in relation to the services provided and taking into account the rental costs at different locations (and) facilities that vary greatly," he said. In addition, he added, the duration of consultation may range from five minutes to an hour or so, depending on cases and complexity, coupled with the variable level of expertise, competence and different types of clinical examination. "Allowance was given to cap the upper or maximum range one can be charged," said Noor Hisham. He said these consultation fees are the range of chargeable fees, with a ceiling rate specified to prevent overcharging by private practitioners. As such, he added, based on the Regulations of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998, patients have the right to be informed of the estimated charges incurred prior to the initiation of care. The new fee schedule came into force today following approval by the Cabinet on October 12, 2012 and it was done under an amendment to the 13th Schedule of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services (Private Hospitals and Other Private Healthcare Facilities) Regulations 2006.