Changes to Professional Medical Practices: July 2017

Doctors must have indemnity insurance and attend continuing education courses if they wish to renew their Annual Practising Certificate (APC) from now on.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the change from automatically renewing APCs was to ensure patients’ safety, and to see that doctors continually update their knowledge and skills.
He said ample time would be given to comply with the conditions to be imposed on all renewals from Jan 1, 2019.

According to the ministry yesterday, 41,101 APCs have been issued in total, of which 27,417 are in the public sector and 13,684 in the private sector.

Asked if making professional indemnity coverage mandatory would raise the cost of medical care, Dr Subramaniam said it was a negligible cost for doctors as many already have such insurance, especially specialists in hospitals, while doctors in the public sector were already covered by the Government.

“A lot of litigation has been coming lately. The sum involved is phenomenally huge in such lawsuits,” Dr Subramaniam said, adding that it was in the doctor’s best interest to be covered.

These are among several changes made to the Medical (Amendment) Act 2012 and Medical Regulations 2017, which will come into force today, 1st July 2017.

Under the new rules, specialists would also have to register with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) to be recognised as such, in 20 fields of medicine including paediatrics, neurosurgery and psychiatry.

Specialists have until December to register, though those already recognised by the MMC would automatically be placed in the National Specialist Register.

Dr Subramaniam said the MMC would work closely with the Academy of Medicine and specialists fraternity in establishing standards, while the Medical Regulations 2017 provides for the setting up of a Medical Education Committee which will identify the institutions and qualifications to be recognised.

The third change was to corporatise the MMC, giving it more autonomy in managing its secretariat and funding.

Dr Subramaniam said the MMC’s daily activities would be managed by a chief executive officer, supported by a secretariat that would be able to hire its own employees and generate funding from services rendered to the medical community, in addition to receiving government funds.

MMC secretary Datuk Dr Azmi Shapie told The Star that the secretariat would now be made up of 17 elected members, nine appointed members from public and private medical schools, and three representatives each from private and public centres, all led by its president, the Health Director General.

The change to a corporate entity would also amend certain job titles, with Dr Azmi’s position now becoming CEO.

Asked how many specialists were not registered, he said most already were, with 9,898 listed on the National Specialist Register. “It’s very important to register. Patients will be able to check online that you’re legitimate. This would also ensure only those with recognised training can practise as specialists,” he said, adding that registration costs RM1,500 and was valid for five years, with renewal for a similar period costing the same.

Dr Azmi also added that doctors who were not recognised and not registered as spe­cialists would be considered general practitioners.

/theSTAR 01-07-2017

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