SINGAPORE: The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) has appointed a committee to review existing legislative and administrative frameworks for disciplinary proceedings involving doctors.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong told Parliament on Monday that the move is aimed at optimising and strengthening processes so that disciplinary matters are dealt with in a fair and quick manner.
He added that the Medical Registration Act (MRA), which was recently amended, needs to be given more time to be implemented fully.
Mr Gan said this in response to questions by Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris—Punggol GRC, Dr Janil Puthucheary.
Dr Janil had asked what was being done to review the handling of disciplinary cases involving doctors, and what steps could be taken to strengthen doctors’ trust in the Singapore Medical Council.
This comes as Dr Janil asked whether the Health Ministry was studying reasons behind the large number of null votes cast at the recent SMC election.
To this, Mr Gan said between 15 and 20 per cent of doctors cast null votes every year.
Mr Gan also added that the Director of Medical Services had also written to all doctors in January to clarify the SMC’s disciplinary processes.
Dr Janil asked, "The medical profession for a very long time has had the principle of internal self—regulation because of a presumption of the need for professional knowledge and professional competency. Going forward, where does the minister see the balance between the regulation by external bodies — be they legal bodies or government bodies — as compared to the idea of internal self—regulation by the profession?"
Mr Gan said, "We need to strike a balance between self—regulation as well as external oversight, and that is why the MRA was amended recently, I think in 2010, to include external parties who are involved, including the senior legal profession, who will also be part and parcel of this disciplinary process that’s going to be conducted within the SMC.
"So I think we should allow the Act, which has just been amended, to be implemented fully. And many of the cases that we see today, are in fact cases that have started before the amendment of the Acts and therefore they legally have to come under the previous framework."
"And the new cases will be taken on under the new framework. And I think the Committee that has been set up will take the time, over the next six months, to review the processes and the implementation of the new Act, to see where else we can improve, so as to enhance the trust and confidence of both the profession as well as the members of the public.
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