MOH will take action against doctors, dentists issuing MCs unprofessionally , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

MOH will take action against doctors, dentists issuing MCs unprofessionally

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said it will take “enforcement or regulatory action” should it find any doctor or dentist contravening any of the laws governing their practices. It did not indicate what action it might take.

Errant practitioners will also be referred to their respective professional watchdogs for further action, the ministry said on May 28.

It was replying to The Straits Times’ queries regarding a circular it had sent to all doctors on April 22 reminding them of their professional obligations when issuing medical certificates (MCs).

MOH had sent the circular after receiving feedback from employers, government agencies and schools that with the advent of telemedicine, there has been “excessive” MCs issued.

The feedback also mentions MCs given to people who were not sick and to malingerers who get repeated MCs through teleconsultation, without any physical check by a doctor.

In the circular, MOH also said that it plans to amend the Healthcare Services Act to require that every MC issued for a patient must include the name and medical registration number of the issuing medical practitioner.

ST had asked the ministry on May 9 if it had data on the alleged abuse of MCs or if it was purely anecdotal feedback. Without knowing the size of the problem, it is difficult to decide what action, if any, needs to be taken, ST said in a commentary on May 27.

ST also asked if MOH had proof of MCs that were issued by people who were not doctors or dentists.

Responding on May 28, the ministry said: “The MOH has received feedback on the manner that medical certificates have been issued. The feedback came from various employers, government agencies and schools.”

It added: “MOH is reviewing the feedback and will take enforcement or regulatory action if any licensee is found to be in contravention of the Medical Registration Act, the Dental Registration Act or the Healthcare Services Act, regulations and/or licence conditions.”

Explaining its proposed amendment to the Healthcare Services Act that will require a doctor or dentist to have “provided medical or dental care... to the patient” when issuing an MC, the ministry said: “The proposed new requirement will encompass any form of medical or dental care provided to the patient and is not limited by the mode in which it is provided.”

The news that MOH plans to tighten the rules on the issuance of MCs has resulted in much heated debate among employers and employees alike.

Some people said they fear those who are really ill might not be given sick leave as a result, while employers, who have to accept MCs, said teleconsultations have resulted in a lot more MCs being issued.

Others implied that staff might seek MCs when not sick because of poor workplace conditions.