Changes to Bill set to address parallel pathway issues

PETALING JAYA: Amendments to the Medical Act 1971 believed to involve Section 14 are set to address issues related to the parallel pathway programme.

Section 14 deals with the registration of specialists to the National Specialists Registry (NSR) and the role of the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) in the process.

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Former deputy health minister Datuk Dr Lee Boon Chye emphasised the importance of maintaining both specialist training pathways, as certain specialities cannot be replaced by a structured programme or a local Master’s programme due to the evolving nature of the medical profession.

“Hence, parallel programmes and apprenticeship programmes must be maintained in perpetuity.

“There are issues with regard to the role of the MMC. The Medical Act amendment in 2012 empowers MMC to keep the registry of the NSR but the Act did not lay out the mechanism to determine the qualification for specialists,” he said.

The Medical Regulations 2017, which enforced the Act and gazetted into law using the power given to the minister, attempted to specify this mechanism by listing specialities and academic qualifications.

The gazettement led to the current fiasco in cardiothoracic surgery, where specialists from the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (FRCS Ed) in Cardiothoracic Surgery were somehow not on the list.

“Some anomalies were left unaddressed in the Medical Regulations 2017,” said Dr Lee.

“For instance, although the FRCS Ed was excluded, some other qualifications were listed.

“MMC is not meant to be an autonomous institution. It is created by law as a government agency,” he said, adding that the minister has power that can be exercised to address the issue.

Senator Dr RA Lingeshwaran, a former director of the Sungai Bakap Hospital, said the amendments would be timely given the shortage of specialists.

He advocated for recognising the parallel pathway and implementing equivalency programmes to encourage Malaysian specialists practising abroad to return.

“The strategy will be to augment the local Master’s programme, recognise the parallel pathway and find a well-balanced solution to have an equivalency for specialists of Malaysian origin who are practising abroad to return home to serve the rakyat.”

Meanwhile, Group of Professors of Health and Medicine head Prof Dr Noor Hassim Ismail argued against amending the Act, asserting that local specialist programmes have superior safety and quality records compared to the parallel pathway programme.

“The Medical Act should not be amended as there is no issue with the existing local specialist programme. The authorisation to recognise the medical specialist programme should be under the jurisdiction of the medical specialists without interference of the minister,” he said.

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parallel pathway , MOH , MMC , Medical Act


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