Malaysia's Ministry of Health (MOH) has amended the Medical (Amendment) Act 2012 and Medical Regulations 2017, which was set in stone on 1 July.

Under the new rules, doctors must have indemnity insurance and attend continuing education courses to upgrade their skills, before they can renew their Annual Practising Certificates (APCs).

The new requirement – set to come into effect on 1 January 2019—makes it mandatory for doctors to accumulate 20 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points, which can be obtained through attending courses, seminars and workshops, that would be organised throughout each year—to be able to practice.

The amendments were made to address the current needs of medical practice and ensuring safe and quality medical care for the public.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam remarked that there would be a grace period for doctors to get enough CPD points and obtain professional indemnity cover. However, those applying for an APC from 1 January 2019, would need both qualifiers at time of application.

"This is to provide ample time for registered medical practitioners to comply with the requirements," he added.

Specialists to register under the MMC

Under the new Medical Act's rule, specialists will also have to register with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), including paediatricians, neurosurgeons and psychiatrists.

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

The Association of Specialists in Private Medical Practice (ASPMP) voiced out their concern that specialists welcome the amendments; but do not want it to be commercially driven – pointing out that the fees to obtain indemnity coverage and upgrade their skills should be reasonable or else, it would raise the cost of medical care.

Dr Subramaniam responded that it was a negligible cost for doctors, as many already have insurance, especially specialists in hospitals, while doctors in the public sector were already covered by the Government.

MMC to be corporatized – more freedom in funding and management

Furthermore, the third change includes the MMC being corporatised – giving it more autonomy in managing its secretariat and funding.

The MMC's daily activities would be managed by a chief executive officer, supported by a secretariat that can 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, who was recently appointed as CEO, said 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.

This would make the programmes, seminars and conferences more affordable and available to doctors across Malaysia, especially those in the districts and East Malaysia, said Dr Sng Kim Hock, President of ASPMP.

FPMPAM suggests upgrading renewal system of the APC

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) welcomed the new amendments, which it said, is long overdue and also voiced out its preference on a completely independent council with more elected members, including the president, than appointed members.

"The hiring for the post of CEO should also be advertised and an interview conducted to choose the best candidate,” said Dr Ravindran R. Naidu, MMA president, adding he hoped to see representation from private medical university colleges, which were now absent.

Dr Steven Chow, President of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners' Associations Malaysia hopes that with the corporatisation of the MMC, the upgrading of the current renewal system of the APC would occur as it was showing signs of inability to cope.

"Up to March this year, some doctors were complaining that they had yet to receive their APCs for 2017," he said.

Former Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican mentioned that the Act was deliberated during his tenure from 2005 to 2011, and it took a while before the regulations came into force.

Explaining the delay, Dr Subramaniam said that although the Medical (Amendment) Act 2012 was amended five years ago, the ministry was waiting for the approval of the new regulations from the Attorney-General’s Chambers. MIMS

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