KUALA LUMPUR: THE more than 40,000 doctors in the country will be compelled to undergo specific hours of upskilling programmes by the Health Ministry and selected professional societies before they can renew their Annual Practising Certificates (APCs).
Under this new requirement, which is set to come into effect next year, the ministry is making it mandatory for doctors to accumulate 20 points that would be raked up from, among others, courses, seminars and workshops that would be organised throughout each year.
They will only be eligible to continue their practice if they satisfy this requirement, which the ministry calls the 20 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points.
Doctors who miss out on their points will be considered ineligible to practice by their governing body, the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).
This system is provisioned for under the amended Medical Act 2012 and Medical Regulations 2017 that were initiated in the spirit of addressing the current needs of medical practice and ensuring safe and quality medical care for the public.
Health deputy director-general (medical) Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran told the New Straits Times that changes to certain laws governing the health sector were long overdue and critically needed in keeping pace with significant changes in the healthcare industry.
“It has been more than 25 years since we amended our Medical Act and I believe that changes are necessary because we don’t want our laws to be outdated.
“The move will also empower MMC as a corporate entity and, as an independent body, the way the council handles complaints will also change.”
Dr Jeyaindran said the CPD points-collecting system was introduced to ensure the continued learning of doctors, which would be possible through courses and seminars, and for them to keep up with the rapidly progressing world of medicine.
“Knowledge in medicine moves very fast the world over.
“It is said that on an average of five years, all that you have learned will become obsolete.
“So, if you come out from medical school and don’t read up or attend seminars or do nothing to keep abreast and improve your knowledge, you end up like doctors in some countries who are termed ‘de-skilled’ doctors.
“The reason we include this in the APC application is to ensure that our doctors have up-to-date knowledge, which they can attain by attending the programmes.”
Dr Jeyaindran said it was the ministry, together with MMC, which decided that doctors must obtain at least 20 CPD points before being able to renew their APC.
“The earning of the CPD points will be decided by the CPD council. A doctor may earn one to three points for each programme, depending on the course or hours.
“From 2018, they will start earning these points to be licensed for their practice in 2019,” he said, adding that doctors are reminded that the weightage of the CPD points will determine their eligibility as practicing doctors from Jan 1, 2019.
Last year, MMC issued 41,101 APCs, out of which 27,417 were for doctors in the public sector and 13,684 in the private sector.
On the move to compel medical specialists to register under the National Specialist Registry (NSR), Dr Jeyaindran said this was to ensure that the public would not fall prey or be duped by “inadequate specialists”.
“The NSR has been there for a few years, but before this, we did not make it compulsory for specialists to register.
“But now, with the new Medical Act, this has become compulsory for specialists before they can call themselves specialists.
“There were many cases of doctors claiming to be cardiologists or other specialists when they didn’t complete their training.
“Before this, there was no guideline on who is considered a specialist.
“Now, the NSR will serve to validate these specialists, including foreign doctors and those who studied overseas.”
Dr Jeyaindran said these specialists, once registered, would have to reapply to the NSR every five years.
“This will ensure your name remains listed in the NSR as a specialist,” he said, adding that the specialist would, among others, have to continuously practice in their specialised field in order to renew with the NSR.