There has been an increase of 30 per cent in complaints against doctors in Singapore in 2016 compared to the figures in 2015. Net legal expenses for disciplinary proceedings have also registered an upward trend. This has been revealed in a report prepared by Singapore Medical Council (SMC).
SMC is a statutory body which regulates doctors in Singapore. According to the figures available, SMC received 182 complaints against 242 doctors in 2016, up from 141 complaints in 2015. The number of complaints per 1,000 doctors rose from 10.7 to 13.4.
While speaking of the figures, SMC noted in its report, “While this constituted an increase of almost 30 per cent compared to the previous calendar year, there was no significant rise in the rate of complaints based on the trend for the past 10 years.”
However, the complaints’ peak was in 2014, when there were 17.2 complaints received per 1,000 doctors.
Complaints made against the doctors mainly concerned alleged breaches of the ethical code and guidelines, and services provided that were not of the expected quality.
SMC also noted, “Of 386 cases processed by complaints committees last year (which included cases carried over from previous years), 71 were dismissed and seven withdrawn. Last year, 13 disciplinary inquiries were concluded, with three discontinued, five resulting in censure, suspension and/or fine, and five pending before the Court of Three Judges.”
However, there was a whopping increase in net legal expenses for disciplinary proceedings. Net legal expenses - costs recovered subtracted from expenses incurred — increased a whopping 81 per cent from SGD597,116 in the financial year that ended March 31, 2016, to SGD1,080,616 in the financial year that ended March 31, 2017. The increase was due to lower costs recovered by SMC for legal proceedings.