AMM urges Govt to rectify specialist register denials while seeking long-term solution

PETALING JAYA: It is high time for Malaysia to focus on increasing the number of medical specialists to meet national needs through a unified and structured competency-based training programme, says the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM).

It said while the joint efforts of the Health and Higher Education ministries on the matter should be applauded, the current impasse affecting some specialists who were denied inclusion in the National Specialist Register (NSR) must be resolved first.

The AMM said this in a statement on Monday (April 22), which was also endorsed by specialists in the country.

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“Master's programmes play a vital role in fostering specialisation and expertise in various medical fields.

"Simultaneously, the parallel pathway programme offers an alternative route to be a medical specialist, contributing to the expansion of our specialist workforce.

“Hence, every effort must be made to strengthen both training programmes and ensure the completion of training so that trainees can register in the NSR," the statement read.

The Health Ministry and AMM have collaborated for over two decades to discuss, debate and fine-tune the various aspects of setting up NSR.

In 2006, the ministry proposed that AMM be entrusted to initiate and maintain NSR under the purview of the National Credentialing Committee, chaired by the president of the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), who was also the Health director-general.

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“The NSR is, in fact, an exercise in self-regulation by the medical profession, having the interest and safety of the public at heart.

"Through the NSR, the medical profession will strive to maintain and safeguard the highest standards of specialist practice in the country,” said the statement.

It also pointed out that a year before NSR was formally launched in 2006, the then Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Mohamed Taha wrote that “the NSR will ensure that doctors designated as specialists are appropriately trained and fully competent to practice the expected higher level of care in the chosen specialty”.

“While we must applaud the joint efforts of Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir to address issues related to specialist training, the current impasse affecting some specialists who were denied their registration into NSR must be resolved forthwith. This matter firmly falls solely within the ambit of MMC, and we await their decision,” said AMM.

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The statement was endorsed by anaesthesiologists, dental specialists, emergency physicians, otorhinolaryngologists, obstetricians and gynaecologists, paediatricians, pathologists, public health medicine physicians, radiologists and surgeons.

Earlier this month, four graduates from the parallel pathway training with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in cardiothoracic surgery took legal action against the MMC for refusing to register them on the NSR.

This was the third known lawsuit against the MMC’s rejection of NSR specialist registration applications, in which judicial review applications were filed to challenge the independent regulatory body’s recent non-recognition of certain specialist training programmes.

The other two lawsuits were filed by a neurosurgeon with FRCS Ireland in neurosurgery and six pathology graduates in medical genetics from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

The High Court has granted leave for both judicial review applications.

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