28 October 2022

From 12 October 2022 to 11 November 2022, the Ministry of Health (“MOH”) is conducting a public consultation to seek comments on proposed amendments to the Healthcare Services Act 2020 (“HCSA”) to strengthen safeguards for patient safety and welfare. MOH targets to implement the HCSA amendments in June 2023.

By way of background, HCSA was enacted in 2020 to replace the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act 1980 (“PHMCA”). HSCA is being implemented progressively in three phases, which started when HCSA partially commenced on 3 January 2022 (“Phase 1”), and will be fully implemented by end-2023 when the PHMCA will be repealed.

Set out below is a summary of the proposed HCSA amendments:

  • Provide certain conditions relating to advertisements of healthcare services:
    • Non-HCSA licensees cannot claim to treat medical conditions or diseases.
    • Non-registered healthcare professionals who use the title of “Dr” must make clear what their qualifications and credentials are to avoid misleading the public to believe that the “Dr” is one associated with a general medical practice.
  • Disallow HCSA licensees from using terms associated with specialties in their business names if there is no such specialist employed by them.
  • Introduce different modes of service delivery for each healthcare service
    (as appropriate to the service). For example, a medical clinic can choose:
    • “Permanent Premises” for clinic service delivered at its brick-and-mortar physical premises;
    • “Temporary Premises” for home visits or community site screenings; and
    • “Remote” for teleconsultations.
  • To safeguard the provision of healthcare services, MOH proposes an approval regime for the delivery of specified services and the appointment of clinical governance officers.
  • Refine the scope of employee background screening according to the degree of risk to patients’ safety and welfare.
  • Allow MOH to take immediate action to address urgent patient safety issues by removing the 14-day notice prior to modification of licence conditions for groups of licensees in such special circumstances.

In particular, MOH is seeking views from (i) the general public, (ii) licensees who have already come onboard HCSA in Phase 1, and (iii) healthcare providers who may take up HCSA licences in the future. The feedback gathered from the public consultation will better inform the implementation of HCSA in subsequent phases.

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

Reference materials

The press release is available on the MOH website www.moh.gov.sg.

If you would like to read our previous articles which tracked developments relating to the HCSA, please click on the following titles: