Health DG must remain MMC president, says surgeons' association

PETALING JAYA: The Health director-general must remain the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) president, said the Malaysian Association for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery (MATCVS).

In a statement issued Monday (Apr 22), it also said it supports the Cabinet decision to amend the Medical Act 1971 to facilitate the smooth registration of specialists trained through both the parallel pathway and university masters programmes.

“We strongly believe that the Health director-general must remain as the MMC president to enable synergism in healthcare regulation and policy,” said MATCVS, which added it will cease to make further comments on parallel pathway training for cardiothoracic surgery specialists.

Earlier this month, four graduates from the parallel pathway training with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in cardiothoracic surgery had taken legal action against MMC for refusing to register them on the National Specialist Register (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 the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) Ireland in neurosurgery and six pathology graduates in medical genetics from Universiti Sains Malaysia.

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

In its statement on Monday (April 22), MATCVS said it applauded the Apr 19 decision of Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir to jointly submit a Cabinet memorandum aimed at amending the Medical Act 1971 to facilitate the smooth registration of specialists trained through both the parallel pathway and university masters programmes.

“Both the parallel pathway training and university masters programmes must coexist unimpeded in the training landscape of this country to ensure that we produce the maximum number of specialists of the highest quality and standards utilising all our training capabilities and resources.

"The training of specialists through the parallel pathway is a government initiative set up by the Health Ministry in 2014 having received the approval of the then Health Minister and relevant competent authorities at the time, to increase the number of specialists in the country especially in public hospitals. The training and qualifications were approved and recognised by the government and are quality assured by the Royal Colleges.

“The Cardiothoracic Parallel Pathway does make use of the Joint Surgical Colleges Fellowship Examination (JSCFE) Cardiothoracic examination or the Fellowship of the FRCS International qualification, a totally unrelated and different examination and qualification, which is persistently quoted by some opponents of the Cardiothoracic Parallel Pathway training despite numerous clarifications by MATCVS.

“We also hope that the amendments to the Medical Act (Act 50) will include structural reforms to the MMC in terms of elections, appointments, operational policies, accountability, transparency and also the composition of Council members, and including the appointment of the CEO and senior officials, towards making the MMC a more reputable and respected organisation with the confidence of all healthcare professionals and the public,” read the MATCVS statement.

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