Singapore health ministry to curb rampant issuance of medical certificates, set to amend Healthcare Services Act

Skipping classes and work might just get harder in Singapore. Taking cognizance, The Ministry of Health has decided to come with strict measures pertaining to the issuance of medical certificates. As per reports, the MOH stated that several doctors are giving out the MCs too freely.

A representational image of a working medical practitioner. Photo courtesy: Unsplash
A representational image of a working medical practitioner. Photo courtesy: Unsplash

The MOH also stated that MCs were issued for non-medical reasons as well, raising concern about the practice in the city-state.

The ministry has proposed to amend the Healthcare Services Act and currently seeking feedback from experts. A circular regarding the same was also sent to doctors on April 22, news reports said.

What are the allegations?

The MOH pointed out that, in some cases, certificates were issues based on patients’ self-reported reasons during teleconsultations. It also alleged that no proper assessment was done by an expert before the MCs were given.

“MCs were issued when patients mentioned that they had just wanted a certification to skip work or school, but they were not sick,” MOH said.

Cases of the same patient getting MCs without proper examination were also highlighted.

What are the proposed regulations?

Doctors might have to mention their credentials and medical council registration number on every MC they issue, as per reports.

If doctors fail to adhere to this norm, they will risk the revocation of their medical practitioner’s license.

The MOH is likely to conduct inspections or audits. Doctors who fail during these, might end up on a professional watchdog’s list for further action.

Seeking feedback, MOH said those medical practitioners who are interested, can provide feedback on the new requirement and email in to by May 20.

The new circular was signed jointly by Professor Kenneth Mak, director-general of health at MOH, and Professor Chee Yam Cheng, President, Singapore Medical Council.

It reminded the medical practitioners to stick to the Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines of doctors.

“[An MC] must be made in the context of an existing patient-doctor relationship and is premised on the duty of care the doctor owes the patient arising from this patient-doctor relationship,” the circular said.