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Singapore

MOH proposing amendments to Healthcare Services Act for 'greater clarity', patients' safety

From Oct 12 to Nov 11, the public is invited to visit www.hcsa.sg to provide their feedback on the proposed changes to HCSA.

MOH proposing amendments to Healthcare Services Act for 'greater clarity', patients' safety

Nurses at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. (File photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) is proposing several amendments to the Healthcare Services Act (HCSA) to better safeguard patient safety and well-being, while enabling the development of new and innovative services, the ministry announced on Wednesday (Oct 12). 

The proposed amendments will also enable patients to benefit from a delivery of healthcare services by licensees under a "robust regulatory regime", as well as from "greater clarity and transparency in healthcare services advertising and modes of service delivery".

The following are MOH's proposed amendments, as outlined in its press release, and are targeted for implementation in June 2023.

First, the Health Ministry proposes a change to the advertising of healthcare services not licensed under HCSA. 

It proposes that non-HCSA licensees "cannot claim to treat medical conditions or diseases when advertising healthcare services". 

Non-registered healthcare professionals who use "Dr" in their advertisement of healthcare services must make clear to the public what their qualifications and credentials are. This is so the public are not "misled" that the "Dr" is someone associated with a general medical practice or has an MBBS degree. 

Second, MOH proposes that HCSA licensees are "not allowed to use terms associated with specialties in their business names if there is no such specialist employed by them". 

For instance, a clinic cannot be called "Neurology Clinic" if there is no neurologist working for the clinic. 

Third, MOH proposes a regulation of different modes of healthcare service delivery. 

This is so the public is aware of the modes of service delivery they can access, said the ministry. 

For instance, a medical clinic can choose "Permanent Premises" for its clinic service delivered at its physical premises.

They can choose "Temporary Premises" if they provide home visits or community site screenings, and they can select "Remote" for teleconsultations. 

Fourth, MOH is proposing an introduction of "an approval regime" for the delivery of specified services, such as imaging modalities under the radiological service. 

They are also proposing the appointment of "clinical governance officers". 

Fifth, MOH proposes refining the scope of employee background screening according to the degree of risk to patients' safety and welfare. 

And finally, MOH is proposing that it should be allowed to take immediate action to address "urgent patient safety issues".

It proposes removing the current 14-day notice prior to modification of licence conditions for groups of licensees in such special circumstances, such as requiring licensees to implement screening requirements for patients and caregivers to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

PUBLIC INVITED TO SHARE VIEWS 

From Oct 12 to Nov 11, the public is invited to visit www.hcsa.sg to provide their feedback on the proposed changes to HCSA.

"The feedback gathered from the public consultation will better inform the implementation of HCSA in subsequent phases," said MOH.

The ministry is also seeking views from licensees who have already come onboard HCSA in Phase 1 and healthcare providers who may take up HCSA licences in the future. 

For licensees who are coming onboard HCSA in Phase 2, more details on specific requirements will be provided at the respective service regulation consultations in the next few months, said MOH.

HCSA, enacted in 2020 to replace the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act (PHMCA), is being implemented progressively in three phases which started in January 2022 and will be completed in end-2023.

Source: CNA/gy(rj)

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